by Arvind Gunasekar
Twenty-two-year-old activist Disha Ravi — who spent five days in police custody and two days in jail in the aaToolkit case — did not get bail today. The order was reserved shortly after an hour-long argument between the judge and the Delhi Police, in the middle of which, judge Dharmendra Rana said he “Can’t move ahead unless I satisfy my conscience”. Later, he reserved the order for Tuesday, which would mean another day in jail for the climate activist.
At the hearing today, the Delhi Police’s reasoning about the activists being in league with secessionists and conspiring to cause the violence during the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day was severely put to test, with the judge dubbing it “conjecture”.
Starting with “What is a toolkit” and whether it was “incriminating in itself”, the judge went on to ask a series of tough questions.
“What is the evidence collected by you to show the link between her and the January 26 violence? You have argued about her role in toolkit and she in touch with the secessionists,” he said.
When the Delhi Police — represented by Additional Solicitor General SV Raju — argued that “Conspiracy can be seen only through circumstantial evidences,” the judge shot back, “So you don’t have any evidence to connect Disha with the January 26 violence?”
To underscore the point, he added, “How do you connect actual violators on January 26 with Disha?”
“In a conspiracy, execution is different and planning is different,” the Delhi Police responded, but it failed to satisfy the judge. “Should I presume that there is no direct link now?” he said.
After learning that the perpetrators of violence have been arrested in another case, he said, “Where is the connection between conspiracy and offence? I have still not got the answer”.
Appearing for Disha Ravi, counsel Sidharth Agarwal said the 22-year-old from Karnataka has had no contact with any secessionist.
When the judge pointed out, “There can be another element also, enemy’s enemy is my friend”, Mr Agarwal said, “I must engage with that secessionist to take part in that cause”.
There is no evidence to show “she is one, Disha Ravi’s lawyer said. “My only chats submitted are with PJF (Poetic Justice Foundation). With so much power, why wasn’t that organisation banned yet?” he added.
The only banned organisation in this case is Sikh For Justice, “but even the case of Delhi Police doesn’t show any connection between me and them. They say I was in touch with PJF but that’s not a banned organisation,” her lawyer added.
Questioning the Delhi Police, which had opposed the bail, the lawyer said, “What’s the strategy of the Delhi Police here? Three days of judicial custody and then again taking me into police custody… not to find some devices or evidences but to confront me with a co-accused”.
The Delhi Police, which arrested Disha Ravi from Bengaluru last Saturday, alleged that she was a key conspirator in the case and prepared and spread the Toolkit in an attempt to revive a Khalistani group.
The toolkit made headlines after it was shared on Twitter by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg to show support for protesting farmers.
A warrant is out for Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk, who the police said were also involved in creating the “Toolkit”and wanted a social media buzz over the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day. The two have been granted transit anticipatory bail by Bombay High Court.
Claiming it was found of on a social media handle ahead of violence during the farmers’ tractor rally, the police said it indicates a conspiracy behind the events of January 26.