Climate Activist Jailed in India as Government Clamps Down on Dissent
Before anyone outside her hometown knew her name, Disha Ravi spent four years raising awareness among young people in Bangalore about the effects of climate change. Now the 21-year-old activist is jailed in New Delhi. The allegation: She distributed a “tool kit” in the form of a Google Doc containing talking points and contact information for influential groups to drum up support for farmers who have been protesting against the Indian government for months. The New York Times: The document — which the police say she shared with Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old Swedish climate activist — resembles the kind that grass-roots organizations around the world have used for years to campaign for their causes. But Ms. Ravi, the police contend, was using it to “spread disaffection against the Indian State.” The arrest, the latest in a series of broader crackdown on activists, has triggered anger and disbelief among opposition politicians, student groups and lawyers, who say the government is using its law enforcement agencies to increasingly stifle dissent, in line with a broader deterioration of free speech in India. Ms. Ravi’s arrest, they said, has raised the crackdown to a new level.

“There is a method to this madness,” said Manshi Asher, a researcher with the nonprofit group Environmental Justice, “and a pattern that is so clearly telling us that those asking critical questions would be silenced.” Ms. Ravi is being held under a stringent sedition law that has been used to criminalize everything from leading rallies to posting political messages on social media. Although she has not been formally charged, she is to spend five days in police custody. In its response to other contentious policies — including citizenship laws that worked against Muslims, a clampdown on the disputed Kashmir region and the farmers’ protests — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has resorted to arrests, stifling dissenting voices and blocking access to the internet. Groups that track internet freedom say India’s has declined for a third consecutive year. For months, thousands of farmers, many of them Sikhs from the agricultural heartland state of Punjab, have camped out on the outskirts of New Delhi, protesting a slate of new laws that will dismantle a subsidy system that has for decades protected them from the vagaries of the free market.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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