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‘Disha Ravi’s arrest is an attempt to suppress voices of dissent’: Citizen activist Mukund Gowda on toolkit case

Platocast spoke to 25-year-old Mukund Gowda, a citizen activist based out of Bengaluru, about the toolkit case.

Climate activist Disha Ravi, 22, was arrested by the Delhi Police on Sunday, February 14, in connection with the Greta Thunberg ‘toolkit’ case. Disha has been accused of editing the toolkit shared by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg on social media to show solidarity with Indian farmers.

Many farmers are currently demonstrating in several parts of the country against the three new farm laws.

On February 3, Greta Thunberg tweeted the “toolkit” to show support for the farmers’ protest, but later deleted the tweet. She then shared “an updated toolkit” for peaceful participation in protests.

According to the police, Disha is a “key conspirator in document’s formulation and dissemination,” and that “she started a WhatsApp Group and collaborated to make the Toolkit doc”.

In the toolkit case leading to her arrest, the police further accused Disha Ravi and others of collaborating with “pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State”.

As Disha Ravi’s arrest in the toolkit case has triggered an outrage on social media, with many accusing the state of trying to intimidate protesters and activists and suppress their voices, Platocast spoke to 25-year-old Mukund Gowda, a citizen activist based out of Bengaluru, about the case.

“I met Disha for the first time in one of our citizen activism gatherings, sometime in the later half of 2019. She was talking about various aspects of climate change and explaining how activities by every human being can have an impact on it,” Mukund says.

“Disha was very committed to whatever cause she fought for. When she spoke, you could see that he had done thorough research. She was thoughtful and had great knowledge about whatever she was doing,” he adds.

Disha, a student of Bengaluru’s Mount Carmel College, is one of the founders of the “Friday for Future” campaign. She heads the India wing of the campaign.

“It was exciting to know that a girl from Bengaluru was associated with “Friday for Future”, which is a global movement. At a time when Greta Thunberg was making headlines for her work, we would think that if they have Greta to fight for important causes, we have Disha here. Her determination was unparalleled. Even when there was very little manpower, Disha made placards, did whatever she had to, to not take a step back, ” says Mukund.

“When she met other citizen activists, she urged them to join the cause. As a result, I began attending the events taken up by FFF too, including a lake preservation drive, another event where we formed a human chain to stop deforestation, and also a roundtable meet,” he adds.

Disha has been sent to five-day police custody. This is a decision by the Magistrate that many found appalling. Social media is flooded with posts demanding her release.

“Coming to the toolkit case, I want to say that whenever citizen activists like us want to get the attention of the government, a minister, an agency or from other notable people, or even to get media attention, we engage in a lot of social media activities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. This happens multiple times in a year. In the process, organisers create a brief document that talks about the history of the topic, what the activity is about, what our aim is etc. That is pretty much the toolkit,” Mukund explains.

“I do not know what exactly the content of Greta Thunberg’s toolkit is, but then it is a necessity for activists. Of all things, a toolkit cannot pose a threat to the country. Today we have open letters, public posts on social media capable of maligning the image of a nation, posts which spread hatred and wage wars. What can a simple toolkit with content related to the work of activists and about the farmers’ protest do to create any kind of menace?” he says.

Disha has not only maintained that she did not author any toolkit but simply made two edits to it, she has also rubbished allegations that she is a part of “Khalistani conspiracy”.

“My motivation to join climate activism came from seeing my grandparents, who are farmers, struggle with the effects of the climate crisis,” Disha had said in a 2020 interview with Auto Report Africa.

“Disha’s arrest in an effort to suppress the voices of dissent,” says Mukund. “The government wants the farmers to fight their battle on their own, all alone. It doesn’t want others — environmentalists and activists — to raise their voices in solidarity. That is why Disha has been arrested.” 

“These arrests, however, will not stop the others from voicing their concerns and fighting for the farmers. The government probably tried to send across a message asking others to stop fighting, but that will not happen. People will continue to raise their voices against injustice,” he concludes.

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