An Indian court on Tuesday granted bail to a climate activist who was charged with sedition after distributing a document intended to help organize the farmers’ protest.
The case of 21-year-old activist Disha Ravi is the latest test of the independence of India’s judiciary amid a shift toward nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose agricultural policies are at the center of a protest. months of duration of the country’s farmers.
Ms. Ravi was arrested at her home in the southern city of Bangalore on February 13. She was later accused of distributing an online instruction manual known as a “toolkit” in the form of a Google doc with talking points and contact information for influential groups. Authorities say it sparked violence during a protest in Delhi last month.
His arrest sparked outrage from former police officers, retired government officials, and public intellectuals, who accused the Modi government of using the country’s law enforcement agencies to target political opponents.
Thousands of farmers have camped out on the outskirts of the capital since November to protest against a series of new laws that would dismantle a subsidy system that has protected them for decades from the vagaries of the free market.
Although the protests have been largely peaceful, violence erupted on January 26 in New Delhi. Dozens of farmers and policemen were injured and one person died.
Ms Ravi’s activism was previously associated with the climate movement started by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The toolkit, which according to international activists is a commonly distributed document, came to the attention of Indian authorities after Thunburg tweeted it in solidarity with Indian farmers.
Delhi police, investigating the violence at the January 26 protest, said the document was intended to spread unrest and “smear” the country.
“If highlighting the protest of farmers worldwide is sedition,” Ravi told the court, “I’m better off in jail.”
On Tuesday, Judge Dharmender Rana of the Delhi Court of Sessions said there was little reason to detain Ms Ravi and questioned the logic of the prosecution in connecting the toolkit and violence.
The judge set Ravi’s bail at about 100,000 rupees, or $ 1,370, on the condition that he remain in Delhi.