Delhi police confirmed the arrest of Disha Ravi, who is in her early 20s, in a tweet on Sunday that accused her of being a “key conspirator in (the) document’s formulation & dissemination.”
Tens of thousands of farmers have been demonstrating for months against new agricultural laws, which they say will devastate their livelihoods.
The toolkit instructs people to call government representatives, share solidarity hashtags on social media, participate in rallies, and sign petitions. It gained visibility after Thunberg tweeted a link to it on February 4, crediting “people on the ground in India.”
The move appeared to anger Indian authorities. The same day, Delhi police announced they had launched a criminal investigation into the toolkit’s creators and would look to charge them with sedition, provoking or inciting a riot and criminal conspiracy.
“In this document, there is an action plan (that) on or after January 26, there will be a digital strike and a tweet storm and also physical action on January 26,” said Special Commissioner Praveer Ranjan at a news conference on February 4. “Using this toolkit, people were informed (on how to enter and exit Delhi).”
It is not yet clear whether Ravi has been charged, what sentence she may face, or when her next hearing will be. There are no publicly available court documents on her case. CNN has reached out to Delhi police to provide more information.
“Disha is a dedicated climate activist,” said one volunteer at the India chapter of Fridays For Future, a global climate activism group founded by Thunberg. “It was difficult to wrap my head yesterday when I came to know about (her arrest), I was shocked.”
The volunteer declined to be named due to safety concerns. “This leads to a lot of caution,” she said. “We are asking for liveable future … It is our right.”
The farmers’ protests
The protests revolve around three new farming laws, which farmers say could hurt their income.
Under the previous legislation, farmers had to sell their goods at auction at their state’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee, where they were guaranteed to receive at least the government-agreed minimum price. There were restrictions on who could buy, and prices were capped for essential commodities.
The new laws dismantled this committee structure, instead allowing farmers to sell their goods to anyone for any price.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has argued that the reforms will modernize the agricultural industry, while giving farmers more freedom to do things like sell directly to buyers or other states without a middle man.
But many farmers say the changes will allow big companies to drive down prices. While farmers could sell crops at higher prices if the demand is there, conversely, they could struggle to meet the minimum price in years when there is too much supply.
Thunberg isn’t the only recognizable name to speak up about the protests — international celebrities including singer Rihanna and NBA player Kyle Kuzma have also voiced support for the farmers.
The Indian government has bristled at the celebrity attention, sharply criticizing those voicing support for farmers online.
“Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs on February 3. “The temptation of the sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”
Some activists see Ravi’s arrest as an extension of the authorities’ hardline stance against those supporting the protests.