This Article is From Feb 20, 2021

"Satisfy My Conscience": Judge Asks Cops For Disha Ravi Link To Violence

The Delhi police plan to take Disha Ravi into custody again to confront her with the other accused in the case.

The police have said Disha Ravi was being evasive.

New Delhi:

The online "toolkit", cited by the Delhi police to accuse three persons of sedition over the past few days, was merely a "resource document" and did not "sow disaffection", eco-activist Disha Ravi told a Delhi court today while moving her bail plea. She said as an activist, her cause was the environment and agriculture, not Khalistan as accused. The Delhi police opposed the 22-year-old's petition saying the toolkit was, in fact, a gateway to another website aimed at defaming India and its army. Ms Ravi, the only person arrested in the case, is closely connected to the Khalistan-backing organisation Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF), they claimed. After listening to both sides, the court reserved its order for Tuesday, but not before hinting that at least some of the prosecution's claims were conjectures.

"I am 22, from Karnataka. I have no connection with Khalistan movement, whatsoever," Ms Ravi argued before Justice Dharmendra Rana. "There is no single chat or conversation between me and the (banned organisation) Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) produced by the Delhi police."

The prosecution has claimed that PJF, which is not proscribed, had close ties to SFJ, concluding, in turn, that it makes Ms Ravi an accomplice to alleged Khalistani activity. 

She then pointed out that the police case had said "yoga was being targeted". "If I prefer Kung Fu, am I in conspiracy with China? Is that sedition?" Ms Ravi's counsel Siddharth Agarwal asked.

The judge then asked her if she had attended a Zoom call, which, as the police have alleged, was one of the sessions where the January 26 violence conspiracy was hatched. "If there is violence or instigation of violence then it's an offence, but what's the allegation against me? That I was part of a Zoom call? That I spoke during the Zoom call?" her counsel asked.

On January 11, the police had earlier alleged, a Zoom call was made between PJF founder MO Dhaliwal and Ms Ravi. Several such meetings followed in the run up to the Republic Day ruckus, the court was told.

Judge Dharmendra Rana, however, asked how anyone could impute wrong motives to a person over merely meeting someone with bad credentials. The police answered, "Everyone knows MO Dhaliwal. Why would you meet with such a person." The court responded: "No. I don't know who is MO Dhaliwal."

The judge also sought evidence to connect Ms Ravi to the January 26 violence. To which the police responded saying, "In a conspiracy, not everyone will have the same role. Somebody...influenced by the toolkit may be instigated and indulge in violence."

Not satisfied, the court asked Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the police, to show the contents of the toolkit that prove a direct link. The "toolkit appeared innocuous," Mr Raju said, only to add, "There was more behind it". To the argument that the external link provided in it was that of a website that spoke of genocide, the judge said: "Is there any direct link or we have to make conjectures here?"

Mr Agarwal, meanwhile, asserted that the toolkit had nothing to "sow disaffection to the country". Even the reading of Mr Raju showed the same, he said.

The police, meanwhile, also argued that bail can be denied if the accused indulges in tampering of evidences. "Constantly she has been refusing to cooperate with the probe. 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.

While the police maintained that the conspiracy could be seen only based on circumstantial evidences, Judge Rana asked, "Should I presume that there is no direct link now?"

When the police counsel could still not come up with an answer, he said, "Unless I satisfy my conscience, I don't move ahead."

Ms Ravi was taken into custody on February 13 from Bengaluru in connection the toolkit case, an offshoot of the police's probe 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.

"They have arrested more than 140 people for violence on January 26. Anyone connected with me," Ms Ravi asked today.

Referring to Mr Muluk, meanwhile, 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 organise 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 PJF, based in Canada, advocates the creation of a Khalistan state. The tweets of the "secessionist organisation" 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.

Pursuant to this, 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.

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 - "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," they 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.