Farm unions condemn Disha Ravi arrest as ‘intimidation tactic’

Farmers’ leader Darshan Pal and others come out after attending a meeting, in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Protesting farm unions condemned the arrest of Bengaluru-based climate activist Disha Ravi, who has been charged in connection with a “toolkit” to coordinate support for their protest.

“They are charging her for sedition. This is a very serious issue. This government is bent on punishing people who are in support of farmers,” said Darshan Pal Singh, president of the Krantikari Kisan Union, and a senior leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the joint front of unions which has been negotiating with the government. Noting that truck owners transporting raw materials for the agitation had also been slapped with notices, he said, “This is part of a wider pattern of intimidation. I don’t think it will impact us negatively, but some people may think twice about extending support.”

In an official statement, the SKM said it condemned the arrest of the 21-year-old activist and “demanded her immediate unconditional release”.

Another SKM leader, Kavitha Kuruganti, who is also based in Bengaluru and is involved in environmental activism and sustainable farming, said she had seen the work of Ms. Ravi’s organisation. “They are active in colleges, and holding town halls. This is a very strong intimidation tactic launched against young activists to stifle their democratic rights,” she said. “And it is atrocious that such action was taken because of a toolkit, which is simply something that alerts citizens to what they can do to support the farmers.”

She dismissed any conflict between environmental activists like Ms. Ravi, most of whom want to end stubble burning, and the protesting farmers, who demanded changes in an ordinance against the practice. “Farmers groups recognise that stubble burning is a bigger problem for them than for air pollution in Delhi. They are only asking for penal provisions to be removed. Criminalising farmers is not the solution, as there are better ways to incentivise change,” said Ms. Kuruganti. “I think youth in the climate movement recognise that economically viable farming is what will lead to more sustainable practices,” she added.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 2:34:06 PM |

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