Toolkit controversy

Source: By The Times of India

An environmentalist, a lawyer and an engineer came on Delhi Police radar after a toolkit was shared by Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg in support of the ongoing farmer’s protests on the capital's outskirts. While the environmentalist, Disha Ravi (22) is in police custody, the lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu Muluk have been granted pre-arrest bail by the Bombay high court.

What is a toolkit?

As pamphlets and fliers are used in offline protests out on streets, a toolkit is their online equivalent for protests on social media. Now that social media has become a significant place to register opinions and views, activists collaborate by means of a toolkit to explain what the protest is about and how people can support it.

A toolkit is a document that provides online resources to educate and amplify on the cause of the protest and what it is trying to achieve. The teen climate activist Thunberg extended her support to the ongoing farmer’s agitation in India and shared a toolkit on her Twitter account on February 4.

However, shortly after she deleted the toolkit and then shared an updated version of the same document. The toolkit shared by Thunberg advised people on how to show support for the farmers protesting against the three contentious farm laws in India.

The original toolkit called for a digital strike, a Twitter storm on or before January 26 and listed 'carrying out protests outside Indian embassies' as one of the actions people can take to support farm protests.

According to the Delhi Police, this toolkit played a significant role in turning January 26 protests violent which left a few hundred police personnel injured. The toolkit was not just the work of a handful of activists in India but was created in collaboration with certain Khalistani organisations, said the police.

What happened on 26 January?

On January 26, after formal Republic Day celebrations at Rajpath ended, the farmers who had been protesting on Delhi's borders since November 2020 and continued to do so, were to enter the capital and take out a 'tractor march'.

As per Delhi Police, the farmers had agreed on a specific route for the march, however, certain agitators broke through the barricades and took a detour to Red Fort. The protestors clashed with the security personnel amidst water cannons and lathi-charge. The mob turned violent and gatecrashed Red Fort, where some agitators climbed the dome of the historic monument and hoisted a Sikh religious flag.

Over 120 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence across Delhi on January 26, officials said.

Disha Ravi arrested

Delhi Police arrested Disha Ravi on 14 February for creating and editing the toolkit which it said was used to instigate violence during 26 January protests. According to the Delhi police, the two along with arrested accused Disha Ravi, an activist from Bengaluru, were allegedly involved in preparing the document and were in direct touch with "pro-Khalistani elements". The Delhi police alleged that Ravi along with Jacob and Shantanu created the toolkit and shared it with others to tarnish India's image.

The accused persons have been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 124(a) for sedition, 153(a) for promoting enmity between different sections of the society and 120(b) for criminal conspiracy.

Nikita Jacob granted transit bail

The Bombay High Court on 17 February granted transit anticipatory bail to advocate Nikita Jacob, a suspect in a case registered by Delhi police in connection with the toolkit. The court in its order noted the applicant (Jacob) is a permanent resident of Mumbai and the FIR is lodged in Delhi, and the relief sought by her now is only temporary.

The court said if Jacob is arrested in the three-week period, then she shall be released after furnishing a bond of Rs 25,000. Another suspect in the case, Shantanu Muluk, an engineer based in Maharashtra's Beed district, was granted transit anticipatory bail for 10 days by the HC's Aurangabad bench. Jacob and Muluk, who claim to be environmental activists, had approached the Bombay HC after a Delhi court issued non-bailable warrants against them.