Toolkit case: Court grants bail to activist Disha Ravi

Disha Ravi (File Photo)

The police had told the court that co-accused Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk attended a Zoom meeting on January 11, 2020 with “60-70 people across the globe” including Dhaliwal and Lal.

New Delhi, Feb 23: A Sessions Court in Delhi Tuesday granted bail to climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in connection with a toolkit on the farmers’ protest that was tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. The court observed that the police investigation in the case was “scanty and sketchy”.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana granted bail to Ravi on the condition of two sureties of Rs one lakh each of the like amount. In his order granting bail, Rana said, “Considering the scanty and sketchy investigation, I do not find any palpable reason to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedents.”

The court has asked Ravi to not leave the country without its permission and to cooperate with the investigation.

The police produced Ravi at the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma and moved an application for further four days of custody. However, the demand was dismissed after the court was informed that Ravi has been granted bail.

Furthermore, co-accused Shantanu Muluk, who had secured transit bail, have now moved an anticipatory bail before the same court which will be heard on Wednesday.

Bengaluru-based Ravi, 22, was arrested on February 13 along with two other activists in connection with a toolkit on the farmers’ protest, which had been tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Ravi used to volunteer for Thunberg’s Fridays for Future (FFF) organisation in Bengaluru.

The Delhi Police has alleged that Ravi was the “key conspirator” in the formulation and dissemination of the document and that she collaborated with pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation to “spread disaffection against Indian state” and also shared the doc with Thunberg. The police also claimed that Ravi had sent the toolkit to Thunberg through the Telegram app, and also “coaxed her to act on it”.

During the bail hearing, Rana had questioned the police on many facets of the case including whether Ravi can be imputed with the actions of Khalistani sympathisers, what was the evidence connecting Ravi to those involved in the violence on Republic Day and how was the toolkit connected to the violence. The court had reserved it’s order for Tuesday.

The police had told the court that the toolkit “seemed innocuous” but it had hyperlinks taking the user to websites which “defamed the Indian Army” like “current genocide alert” which had contents on “genocide in Kashmir” and the citizenship issue in Assam.

The court, while hearing arguments, had asked the police, “Is there any evidence? or are we required to draw any inferences and conjectures?”

The police had told the court that co-accused Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk attended a Zoom meeting on January 11, 2020 with “60-70 people across the globe” including Dhaliwal and Lal. Following this, the accused persons, including Ravi, discussed the Toolkit on WhatsApp, which was created on January 28, “subject to certain modification by applicant”.

The court was told that this toolkit was shared by Shantanu to PJF. Ravi consented to this by sending a message that she read it, and as per their plan Shantanu came to Delhi days before the violence to carry out their plans.

Ravi’s lawyers had told the court that there was no evidence against Ravi and “having a difference of opinion does not amount to sedition”.

On Monday, the magistrate had remanded Ravi to one-day police custody, observing that while the case against the activist involves “allegations to spread hatred, disaffection” to “undermine India’s sovereignty”, “a balance must be struck with the individual’s right”. He had further said Ravi’s confrontation with her co-accused was necessary as “the role played by each of them in deletion of the original toolkit would come to light, which is very necessary for a fair investigation”.

Ravi was brought to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell office to be confronted with co-accused Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk. Jacob and Muluk had earlier secured transit bail from the Bombay High Court, providing them protection from arrest.

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