Farmers’ Toolkit Case: Non bailable arrest warrants issued against activists Nikita Jacob and Shantanu

22-year-old Disha Ravi was arrested on Saturday 13th January for sharing a “toolkit” to the farmers’ protests with international climate change activist, Greta Thunberg who tweeted the link to her 4.7 million followers. Following this, two more activists are wanted by the police in the case. Warrants have been issued against activists Nikita Jacob and Shantanu as they face charges that are not bailable. Nikita Jacob has approached the Bombay High Court for protection from arrest for four weeks.

The toolkit has been referred to by some critics as “proof” of her conspiracy to fuel protests in India.

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The trajectory of the events are mentioned below – 

Thousands of farmers have united against the Farmer Bills in 2020 and began their protests in November on highways on the perimeter of Delhi against three central laws. On 26th January, Republic Day, a tractor rally broke down into chaos and havoc as protesters broke through blockades and even breached the Red Fort.

On 3rd February, Greta Thunberg tweeted a “toolkit” to extend her support towards the farmers’ Republic Day tractor protest. She then deleted the tweet and posted an updated one. The police claim that the “toolkit” intended to start a cultural war against the government and create divisions among various groups. The Ministry of Affairs released a statement by the government hit out at “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments” by celebrities after posts from Greta Thunberg and pop icon, Rihanna, who also tweeted in support of the farmer protests.

The police said that according to their investigations, the organization — apparently Khalistani — behind the “toolkit” shared by Greta Thunberg — Poetic Justice — had approached Nikita Jacob to orchestrate a “tweetstorm” ahead of the Republic Day protest by farmers.

“I did not make the Toolkit. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on 3rd February,” Disha Ravi, a graduate of Mount Carmel College, told the court. The court sent her to police custody until the next hearing five days later.

She has been charged with playing a crucial role in editing the toolkit document and its circulation. Disha Ravi is apparently a part of Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future campaign.

Various opposition parties and activists have condemned the arrest and the manner in which it was done. “Completely atrocious! This is unwarranted harassment and intimidation. I express my full solidarity with Disha Ravi,” tweeted Congress’s Jairam Ramesh.

In a post, senior lawyer Rebecca John has alleged “shocking abdication of judicial duties”. According to her, the magistrate at Delhi’s Patiala House court was unsuccessful to give Disha Ravi had legal representation in court.

“Deeply disappointed by the conduct of the duty magistrate…who remanded a young woman to five days in police custody, without first ensuring that she was being represented by counsel. Magistrates must take their duties of remand seriously and ensure that the mandate of Article 22 of the constitution is scrupulously followed,” she said. If the accused was not being represented by counsel at the time of the hearing, the magistrate should have waited till her counsel arrived otherwise provided her with legal aid, Ms John wrote.

The new warrants have come into view when outrage is spiralling over the arrest of Disha Ravi, a Bengaluru college graduate and climate activist, on conspiracy and sedition charges. She was arrested from her home in Bengaluru and presented in a Delhi court yesterday without her lawyers.

In her request for protection from arrest, Nikita Jacob has asked for a copy of the FIR and has asserted that the Delhi Police came to her Mumbai home last Thursday with a search warrant and seized gadgets and documents.