NEW DELHI :
A MUMBAI lawyer and a Beed engineer joined arrested climate activist Disha Ravi in creating a protest toolkit backing the farmers’ agitation with the aim of “tarnishing the image of India” and collaborated with pro-Khalistani elements, Delhi Police officials said on Monday. Non-bailable warrants have been issued against lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu, who are absconding. On January 11, 15 days ahead of the Republic Day violence in the national capital, the two attended a Zoom meeting organised by pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation, said Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Prem Nath.
The meeting decided the modalities to create the toolkit titled “Global Farmer Strike” and “Global Day of Action, 26 January”, Nath said at a press conference. As the case added layers, polarising views on social media and outside, officials said they are also probing an ISI element through a man called Peter Friedrich whose name is on the document and who is known to be associated with an operative of the organisation. Ravi, Jacob and Shantanu created the toolkit and sent it to others, officials alleged as a fierce political debate broke out between the Opposition and the ruling BJP over the action against 21-year-old Ravi in the case related to the “toolkit Google doc”, which came to light when it was shared by global climate campaigner Greta Thunberg. According to Nath, the email account created by Shantanu is the “owner” of the Google document and PFJ founder Mo Dhaliwal had contacted them through a Canada-based woman called Punit.
“Disha, Shantanu and Nikita created and edited the toolkit. Disha sent the toolkit to Greta Thunberg through Telegram. Disha deleted a Whatsapp group which she created to spread the toolkit. Due procedure was followed when Disha was arrested,” Nath said. “The toolkit was aimed at tarnishing the image of India,” he added and described the toolkit as a dynamic document with hyperlinks to Google docs, “a lot of which are ‘pro-Khalistani”. The police claimed that Ravi “coaxed” teen activist Thunberg to act on it. Ravi was arrested from Bengaluru on Saturday and sent to police remand for five days by a Delhi court on Sunday with officials claiming she was an editor of the “toolkit Google doc” and “key conspirator” in its formulation and dissemination. A day later, Delhi Police officials said they were conducting raids in several places, including Mumbai, Bengaluru and Beed, to nab Jacob and Shantanu. He lives in Beed and studied in Pune, they said. Jacob approached the Bombay High Court seeking transit anticipatory bail for four weeks so she can approach the concerned court in Delhi to apply for pre-arrest bail.
The High Court will hear the plea on Tuesday. Her plea stated that she is unaware if she is named as an accused or witness in the case. “However, the applicant (Jacob) fears that she may be arrested due to political vendetta and media trial,” her application said. While many in the BJP defended Delhi Police, several Opposition leaders accused the Government of “murdering democracy” by using force against a 21-year-old and called for her release. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the country will not be silenced.
“Your lips are free to speak. Say that the truth is still alive. They are scared, not the country,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. His party colleague Jairam Ramesh said, “Delhi Police on the rampage. After Disha Ravi, it is now the turn of another young woman, Nikita Jacob. More will no doubt follow....” Hitting back at the Opposition for its criticism of the Government over the arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi, the BJP on Monday said these parties, especially the Congress, have always stood with “anti-India” forces in their bid to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra cited the Delhi Police press conference to allege that Ravi’s arrest has totally exposed the “nefarious conspiracies of the break India forces” to demean the integrity of India.