Indian court grants bail to Disha Ravi, activist arrested for farmers’ protests

On Tuesday, an Indian court granted bail to a climate activist who was accused of sedition after distributing a document aimed at helping the protesting farmers’ organization.

The case of activist Disha Ravi, 21, is the latest test of the independence of the Indian judiciary amid a turn to nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose agricultural policies are at the center of a month-long protest. country farmers.

Ms. Ravi was arrested at her home in the southern city of Bangalore on 13 February. She was later accused of distributing an online instruction manual known as a “toolkit” in the form of a Google Document with talking points and contact information for influential groups. Authorities say it sparked violence during a protest in Delhi last month.

His arrest sparked outrage by ex-police, retired civil servants and public intellectuals, who accused the Modi government of using the country’s law enforcement agencies to target political opponents.

Thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of the capital since November to protest against a list of new laws that would dismantle a subsidy system that has protected them from the vagaries of the free market for decades.

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

Ms. Ravi’s activism was previously associated with the climate movement started by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The toolkit, which international activists say is a commonly distributed document, was brought to the attention of Indian authorities after Thunburg tweeted it in solidarity with Indian farmers.

Delhi police, investigating the violence in the Jan. 26 protest, said the document’s aim was to spread unrest and “defame” the country.

“If highlighting the protest of farmers around the world is sedition,” Ravi told the court, “I am better in prison.”

On Tuesday, Judge Dharmender Rana of the Delhi Court of Appeals said there was little reason to detain Ms. Ravi and questioned the prosecution’s logic by connecting the toolkit to the violence.

The judge set Ravi’s bail at about 100,000 rupees, or $ 1,370, on the condition that she remain in Delhi.