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No conditions for Indian climate activist during farmers’ protests




NEW DELHI, Feb 21 (AP): A 22-year-old Indian climate activist who is facing charges of insurgency for her alleged role in creating an online document aimed at helping expand farmer protests does not received bail on Saturday after the court said it would reserve its order for next week.

Judge Dharmender Rana said the court will announce the parole order for Disha Ravis on parole on Tuesday, extending her judicial detention for another two days.

Ravi is part of the Indian wing of Fridays for the Future, a global climate change movement founded by Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. She was arrested last week at her home in the southern city of Bengaluru by New Delhi police.

Officials have said the document Ravi shared on social media spread misinformation about ongoing protests by farmers and “tarnished India’s image.

Ravi did not speak to the court herself but denied the allegations against her through her lawyer Siddarth Agarwal, who argued that the document, which authorities are calling a “toolkit”, was a “simple source document” used by social activists for the campaign. .

Agarwal said police had no evidence to back up their claims that the document was responsible for violence during the farmers’ march on Jan. 26, Republic Day of India, when hitherto peaceful protests mostly erupted in clashes with police.

Earlier this week, police said the document shared on social media showed that there was a “conspiracy behind the violence in which one protester was killed and hundreds of police and demonstrators were injured.

Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out of New Delhi for months in protest against new agricultural laws they say will ruin their livelihoods. The protests have posed a major challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modis’s Hindu nationalist government, which says laws are needed to modernize Indian agriculture.

Police have registered a case of uprising against Ravi, who carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Prosecutions under colonial-era insurgency law are rare, but successive governments have used it to silence journalists, critics, and dissidents in India. Official figures show that the Modis government has used the law more than any other – by almost 30%.

“If emphasizing the farmers’ protest on the global platform is an uprising, then I am guilty,” Agarwal told the court on behalf of Ravis.

The court asked police to present evidence linking the January 26 violence to the document the climate activist shared on social media.

“Is there any evidence? Or are we on assumptions or conjectures?” The court said.

Ravi’s arrest, which comes after the government ordered Twitter to block certain accounts and accuse journalists of insurgency earlier this month, has drawn widespread condemnation within India and across the sea. Critics and opposition parties say her case highlights a growing dissent blow under the Modis government and has called her arrest harassment, intimidation and an attack on democracy.

Protests in several Indian cities were held this week, with demonstrators demanding her immediate release.

On Friday, Thunberg sent two tweets with a hashtag supporting Disha.

“Freedom of speech and the right to protest and peaceful assembly are non-negotiable human rights. These should be an essential part of any democracy. #StandWithDishaRavi, Thunberg wrote on Twitter – AP

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