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Indian court gives bail to Arrested Activist for Farmers’ Protests




An Indian court on Tuesday handed over bail to a climate activist who was accused of insurgency after distributing a document aimed at helping protesting farmers organize.

The case of activist Disha Ravi, 21, is the latest proof of the independence of India’s judiciary amid a turn towards nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose agricultural policies are at the heart of a months-long protest by the country’s farmers.

Mrs. Ravi was arrested at her home in the southern city of Bangalore on February 13. She was later accused of distributing an online instruction manual known as a toolkit in the form of a Google Doc with chat points and contact information for influential groups. Authorities say this led to violence during a protest in Delhi last month.

Her arrest sparked outrage from former police officers, retired government officials and public intellectuals, who accused Mr Modis’s government of using countries’ law enforcement agencies to target political opponents.

Thousands of farmers have been stationed on the outskirts of capitals since November to protest a list of new laws that will dismantle a subsidy system that has protected them for decades from free market distortions.

Although the protests have been largely peaceful, violence erupted on January 26 in New Delhi. Dozens of farmers and police officers were injured and one person was killed.

Ms. Ravis’ activism was previously linked to the climate movement started by 18-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg. The toolkit, which international activists say is a commonly distributed document, was brought to the attention of the Indian authorities after Ms. Thunburg posted it on Twitter in solidarity with Indian farmers.

Delhi police, investigating the violence in the January 26 protest, said the purpose of the document was to spread unrest and slander the country.

If the emphasis on farmers’ protest globally is an uprising, Ms. Ravi told the court, I’m better in jail.

On Tuesday, Judge Dharmender Rana of the Section Court in Delhi said there was little reason to detain Ms. Ravi and questioned the logic of prosecutions in linking vehicle and violence.

The judge ordered Ms. Ravis bail of about 100,000 rupees, or $ 1,370, on condition that she stay in Delhi.

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