Several hundred people including farmers’ leaders, politicians and ordinary citizens took part in protests in support of environmental activist Disha A. Ravi, who was arrested on Saturday by the Delhi police in connection with the Greta Thunberg toolkit case. Hundreds gathered at the iconic Mysore Bank Circle on Monday demanding that she be released.
Among the protesters was historian Ramachandra Guha, who held a placard ‘Free Disha Ravi’.
Stating that it was sad that young people with ideas and passion were being persecuted for their views, Mr. Guha compared the situation to the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975.
“I have lived through the Emergency — as a student and as a historian — and we are reaching that pass today. It is deeply disturbing,” Mr. Guha said.
Farmers leader Badagalpura Nagendra of the Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha strongly condemned Ms. Ravi’s arrest and saw it as a continuation of crackdown on protesting farmers.
“We stand with Disha Ravi who has been fighting for us farmers. The moment we spoke up for our rights, even we have become anti-nationals,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah tweeted: “The arrest of Disha Ravi has exposed the cracks in Indian democracy under Narendra Modi. How can the act of supporting farmers be charged under sedition?” The Congress leader added that the arrest was a “politically motivated act”.
Meanwhile, Ms Ravi’s friends launched a digital campaign #fingeronyourlips. Hundreds of users posted pictures with fingers on their lips, condemning her arrest and the persecution of two other activists, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu. Multiple change.org petitions have condemned the arrest, pointed out procedural lapses in her arrest and have demanded her immediate release.
Student-led organisations said the arrest was an attempt by the authorities to silence them.
Organisations like Students’ Federation of India are planning to stage a protest across the State demanding the immediate release of Ms Ravi. Amaresh Kadagada, SFI State president said that this was a carefully planned attempt by the government to suppress the voice of anyone with an opposing view.