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Indian climate activist granted bail 10 days after being detained over farmer protests

February 23, 2021
An Indian court on Tuesday granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi who was detained for sharing a document intended to help farmers protesting against new agricultural laws. — Courtesy photo
An Indian court on Tuesday granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi who was detained for sharing a document intended to help farmers protesting against new agricultural laws. — Courtesy photo

NEW DELHI — An Indian court on Tuesday granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi who was detained for sharing a document intended to help farmers protesting against new agricultural laws.

The 22-year-old is a founding member of the local chapter of Fridays for Future, the movement led by Greta Thunberg.

New Delhi police that arrested Ravi on Feb.13 in the southern city of Bengaluru said she was a "key conspirator" in the "formulation and dissemination" of a protest "toolkit".

They accused her of producing and disseminating an action plan that allegedly led to violence during farmers' protests in the capital. Authorities said the "toolkit," which was shared by Thunberg on social media, also spread misinformation about the months-long demonstrations and "tarnished the image of India."

Ravi's lawyer argued that there was nothing seditious about the toolkit, saying it made no mention of violence and was a "resource document" that activists often use for campaigning.

Judge Dharmender Rana told the court there was little evidence to justify keeping the activist behind bars and granted bail, conditional on the payment of two sureties of 100,000 rupees ($1,379) each.

"Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence on record, I do not find any palpable reason for keeping a 22-year-old in custody," Rana said.

Ravi's case sparked an outcry in a number of Indian cities, where protests were organized to demand her release.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on Delhi's outskirts to object to controversial agricultural reforms that they say will hurt their livelihoods and benefit large corporations instead.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi says the laws are needed to modernize India's farming sector.

The protests have been largely peaceful, but escalated on Jan. 26, India's Republic Day, when farmers on tractors broke through police barricades and stormed the capital's Red Fort. — Agencies


February 23, 2021
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