Eastern Times, February 14, 2021,New Delhi : Civil Society groups and social activists have demanded the release of young climate change activist Disha Ravi who was has been arrested by Delhi Police and put in police custody for five days, for her alleged sharing an advocacy toolkit inviting solidarity with the farmers’ protests outside Delhi, which was shared by noted Climate change activist Greta Thunberg.
A statement released hours after Ravi was taken into custody, by the activists said, “news that Disha Ravi, a young woman and climate activist from Bengaluru, has been “picked up,” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” conducted by the Delhi Police, is highly disturbing both for what appears to be of illegal nature and for the over-reaction of the government that it represents.”
It said, “the young environmental activists, that the country should be proud of, are the latest victims of the Centre’s continuing efforts to delegitimise the farmers’ protest and the nationwide solidarity it has generated.”
The Delhi Police’s actions are all the more sinister since the 21-year old was taken to Delhi from Bengaluru with no disclosure about her whereabouts, not even to her parents, an action that can be termed extra-judicial abduction, the activists noted. Delhi Police’s disregard for the rule of law is no secret.
However, this action against an individual without following the due process of law, and in clear violation of norms for arrests and detentions laid down by the Supreme Court, reflects absolute contempt for constitutional principles, the statement said.
“The act of criminalising young people for extending solidarity to a struggle that resonates with their own aspirations for a healthy and secure future, strikes as a new low,” it added.
From the controversial Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2020 and in advancing laws that have drawn farmers’ from across India to protest, the wider public is becoming increasingly aware of the Centre’s tendency to put corporate interests over the well-being and future of the nation.
It is also becoming increasingly clear that the current actions of the Central Government are diversionary tactics to distract people from real issues like the ever-rising cost of fuel and essential items, the widespread unemployment and distress caused due to the lockdown without a plan, and the alarming state of the environment… The grave state of India’s environment is evident from the recent Uttarakhand disasters and the floods across Western Ghats, the Ganges and Brahmaputra.
In attending to this disastrous state of affairs, the government needs to reach out to India’s youth, not attack them, the activists have said.
“The government’s heavy-handedness clearly focused on terrorising and traumatising these brave young people for speaking truth to power, and amounts to teaching them a lesson. A confident government must appreciate this resilience of our youth and hold open dialogues with them across the country.
The current actions of the Indian Government, instead, amount to gagging democracy itself, the activists have said.
As people involved in various campaigns for environmental and social justice, and as citizens who believe it is our sacred responsibility to hold governments to account, “we invite the government to treat multiple serious ecological/climate, economic and social crises we now suffer from with the full attention they deserve,” they said.
The activists urged the government to “take India’s youth into confidence, understand their concerns about their future, and work with them to safeguard our environment and strengthen institutions of democratic decision making.”