A Delhi court on Saturday reserved judgement on the bail application of climate activist Disha Ravi, 21, till February 23.
Disha was arrested from her home in Bengaluru on February 13 for “sharing and editing” a toolkit put out by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg to mobilise support for the ongoing farmer protests in India. The Delhi police has alleged that the toolkit was created at the behest of the Poetic Justice Foundation, which they have described without offering any public evidence of being a “pro-Khalistan group” based in Canada.
Opposing her bail, additional solicitor general SV Raju, appearing for the Delhi police, said Disha tampered with evidence because she had deleted a WhatsApp group, International Farmers Strike, and edited the toolkit to remove certain email addresses so that “it would not be traced back to her”.
Calling it a “clear anti-India conspiracy” with a systemic attempt to delete evidence, he said, “These are the actions of a guilty mind. Why does she want to cover her tracks? The toolkit was used as a front for their nefarious activities...The purpose was to facilitate the Khalistani movement.”
Referring to the violence that took place during the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26, he added, “A separatist flag was put up at the Red Fort. This is a very serious offence. It’s not a light offence.” (No “Khalistani flag” was hoisted on the Red Fort on January 26; some of the protesting farmers put up Nishan Sahib, the Sikh religious flag.)
“Where is the documented evidence to show that the toolkit incited the violence on January 26?” the judge asked.
To this, the police argued that the toolkit could inspire somebody to invoke violence. When asked for evidence to back this assertion, the police claimed that they were in the process of collecting it.
Referring to the allegations that Disha was connected to the January 26 violence, the judge asked if the arguments were based only “on surmise, conjecture and inferences”. The police responded that the “conspiracy” needed to be seen cumulatively and not in isolation.
The judge further asked if there was any other link that could be produced between Disha and the violence on January 26 than the fact that she was in touch with alleged secessionists, and that there were certain hyperlinks in the toolkit that supposedly painted India in a bad light. To this, Raju repeated the same argument.
Rejecting the police’s claims, the defence counsel asked, “One of the things listed was to call your government representative, how is this sedition?”
He added, “If I tried to get people to join an event permitted by the Delhi police then how is that wrong?”
He noted the prosecution had argued that according to a Supreme Court judgement the person who calls a bandh must bear the responsibility for what happens during it but the march was not called by Disha, it was called by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha. So, he asked, where was the connection?
“There is no evidence to link me with Sikhs For Justice, a banned organisation. And even if I meet someone, there is no symbol on him that he is a secessionist,” he claimed, adding that nobody arrested in connection with violence at the Red Fort had said they were inspired by the toolkit.