LIMA VARGHESE: Delhi Court’s verdict on Disha Ravi, climate activist from Bangalore on Tuesday, 23 February gives glimpse of hope for freedom to descent against government policies and freedom to voice one’s critical thinking. A healthy democracy gives room for criticism and disagreement. The strength of democracy is judged by the strength of citizens to disagree and question the polices of the government, the other way equates to monocracy or autocracy. The elected government of a democracy should welcome criticism since criticism helps the rulers correct themselves. The Indian Constitution guarantees the citizens to voice a different opinion, criticize the government, its leaders and its action or non-action. Not everyone criticizing is anti-national or supporter of Kalistan fringe movement’. Unfortunately, the country has been sending signals of autocracy by incarceration of those who dare to disagree or conveniently silencing them.
Disha had been charged with serious crimes against nation as sedition, being pro-Kalistan and conspired to cause violence on Republic Day during tractor rally. Delhi police in a hurry and swift action arrested Ravi without following the protocol from her home in Banglaore and flew her to New Delhi to be tried. She said in public that she only edited two sentences of the toolkit of Greta Thunberg, the Sweden teenage global climate activist. Disha Ravi followers a movement by Greta, ‘Friday For Future’ (FFF). They have many followers and this young group advocates, national leaders, to take serious steps to preserve climate by reducing greenhouse emission. They promote activism for preservation of climate. Violation against clean air, water, nature and atmosphere results in unprecedented flash floods, land-slides untimely heavy rains, hurricane, tsunami costing heavy loss of all forms of life and property. These young climate activists are reminding the world leaders to be aware of such national and global disasters and urge them to ensure a safe future for the generation to come. Disha in her toolkit supported the farmer’s protest against the government’s three farm laws remembering her grandparent’s struggle as farmers.
The verdict of the court is praiseworthy and sends out a ray of hope for right-thinking citizens. The additional session judge Dharmendra Rana said “No reason to keep the 22 year old in custody. The Judge questioned the Delhi police “where is the connection between conspiracy and offence” I have still not got the answer”, reported print medias. What Court said is real democratic and encouraging its principles. Curt said: “Citizens cannot be put behind bars simply because they choose to disagree with the state policies. The offence of sedition cannot be invoked to minister to the wounded vanity of the governments. Freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience”. “To arrest a young woman when there was not even scanty and sketchy evidence available on record”, the Judge said. Judge Rana clarified saying, “Perusal of the said toolkit reveals that any call for any kind of violence is conspicuously absent. In my opinion, citizens are conscience keepers of government in any democratic nation”. Judge Rana supporting the global communication further said “In my opinion, the freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographical barriers on communication” quoting Rig Veda. Even though Disha Ravi had to go through mental agony, mental torture in probing and police custody she has been set free being a caged bird. Disha who was unknown until now has become globally known for her ideology and vision as climate activist. She will be an inspiration and model for many young people to become active to express their opinion. Even though the price she paid is heavy but she has won a still weightier reward not only for self but for the whole world.