An Indian climate activist was arrested after allegedly helping create a guide to anti-government peasant protests, tweeted by environmentalist Greta Thunberg.
Social media platforms have become a major battlefield in India. Delhi urges Twitter to suspend hundreds of accounts that spoke up in response to recent rallies by farmers against new farming laws.
Disha Ravi, 22, was arrested on Saturday. Police claimed they had issued an online toolkit containing information about the protests that Swedish activist Thunberg posted on Twitter in early February.
A police statement said Ravi from South Bangalore was a “key conspirator in drafting and disseminating the document.”
The toolkit provided basic information on the farmers’ demonstrations as well as information on how to attend the rallies and support the movement online.
Police in Delhi said Ravi and her group “shared” the toolkit with Thunberg.
Ravi was the founder of Fridays For Future India, an international protest network founded by Thunberg to highlight climate change.
Jairam Ramesh, a former minister and lawmaker for the opposition Congress Party, described her arrest and detention as “completely cruel” and “unjustified harassment and intimidation”.
A coalition of activist groups called for Ravi’s release, saying she was “extremely concerned for her safety and well-being”.
Since the end of November, farmers have been camping on roads leading into the capital and calling for new agricultural laws to be repealed. This is one of the biggest challenges Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced since it came to power in 2014.
Delhi has responded with anger to tweets about the protests from celebrities – including Rihanna and US Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece, Meena Harris – calling them “sensational”.
Read: How a tweet from Rihanna outraged India over peasant protests
Following these posts, the police opened an investigation on February 5 against those who had “incited dissatisfaction and ill will” against the government.
The Delhi police said on Twitter that Ravi’s group was working with those who wanted to create a separate country in the northern state of Punjab.
Many of the protesting farmers are from Punjab.