The online “toolkit”, cited by the Delhi Police to accuse three persons of sedition over the past few days, was merely a “resource document”, environment activist Disha Ravi today told a Delhi court while moving her bail plea. The Delhi police contradicted that claim, opposing the 22-year-old’s petition, saying it was a gateway to various websites that defame India and its army. Ms Ravi, the only person arrested so far in the case, is closely connected to the Khalistan-backing organization Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF), the police has told the court.
They have argued that the bail can be denied if the accused indulges in tampering of evidences. “Constantly she has been refusing to cooperate with the investigation. Her devices have been sent to the FSL experts. Preliminary findings show contents have been deleted. Investigation is still at preliminary stage … That’s destruction of evidences,” the prosecution argued.
Ms Ravi was taken into custody on February 13 from Bengaluru in connection the toolkit case, an offshoot of the police’s investigation in the January 26 violence that broke out amid the farmers’ protest rally on tractors in the national capital. Authorities believe foreign separatist forces were involved in the incidents of that day. Apart from Ms Ravi, they have zeroed-in on two others, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk, in this connection.
Referring to Mr Muluk, the police said the transit anticipatory bail he has got must not be cited in Ms Ravi’s case as the Bombay High Court had not gone into merits of the case.
The three of them are accused of creating the toolkit to organize an international campaign against India, which was inadvertently revealed by Swedish eco-warrior Greta Thunberg who tweeted it before deleting it.
Hearing Ms Ravi’s plea today, the court asked, “What is a toolkit?” The judge also asked what was the legal bar that stopped the Bengaluru woman from moving bail. “What is the prosecution story? What are the allegations against Disha Ravi? What are the evidences against her?” the court posed three questions.
The Delhi police explained that the PJF, based in Canada, advocates the creation of a Khalistan state. The tweets of the “secessionist organization” are evident of their agenda, they said.
“They wanted to take advantage of farmers protest. They wanted an Indian face. They got in touch with few people, including Disha Ravi. A mechanism was devised. The entire purpose of making this toolkit was a conspiracy between the accused,” the police argued.
In pursuance to this conspiracy, the prosecution said, Ms Ravi set up a WhatsApp group, “International Farmers Strike”, on December 6. It claimed there were also attempts to get in touch with PJF.
On January 11, the police alleged, a Zoom call was made between PJF founder MO Dhaliwal and Ms Ravi. Several such meetings followed, the court was told. The toolkit itself was allegedly drafted on January 20 and its final version was shared three days later.
“There was no need to share this toolkit with PJF. It has nothing to do with farmers protest. That too in a clandestine manner. It was a sinister plan,” the police argued.
A hyperlink was provided in this toolkit, they said adding that link led to a different website – CurrentGenocideWatch.com. “That website speaks about genocide, Kashmir … and defaming the Indian Army. This toolkit was cleverly designed to defame India and Indian Army,” the police told the court.
Ms Ravi was lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail over the past three days. The police had told the yesterday that she was being evasive and not cooperating with the investigation.
“We would need the custody of Disha post February 22 to confront her with the other accused. If she is given bail then the investigation will be frustrated,” he said.
The young activist’s arrest has sparked an outrage with many calling it “atrocious”. “I did not make the toolkit. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on February 3,” she had told the court last Sunday.Yesterday, the Delhi High Court cautioned media against sensationalism in the case after Ms Ravi petitioned the court, seeking action against three news channels and direction to the police to not leak investigation material.