Delhi Police on today said that arrested climate activist Disha Ravi had panicked when Greta Thunberg accidentally leaked the toolkit on the farm protests and asked her to refrain from saying anything on it. Disha wanted to consult a lawyer fearing that the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) could be used against her, said the cops, citing retrieved WhatsApp chats.
Police said that Disha’s associates, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu, were on their radar, saying that the three were connected to each other through a woman associate of Khalistani sympathiser, Mo Dhaliwal, who runs an organisation called Poetic Justice Foundation.
Delhi Police arrested Disha from her house in Bengaluru on 13 February and charged her with criminal conspiracy and sedition besides other offences and remanded in police custody for five days. The cops retrieved crucial WhatsApp chats from Disha’s phone.
“I am really sorry, we are all panicking here… But we will make sure you are in the clear,” read one of her messages to climate activist Greta Thunberg. Disha asked Thunberg after the leak if they could refrain from saying anything at all for a while.
“I am gonna talk to lawyers… I am sorry but our names are on it… We can literally get UAPA against us,” read an alleged message by her to Thunberg. Delhi Police claimed it was Disha who had sent the toolkit document to Thunberg on Telegram and coaxed her to act on it. She deleted a WhatsApp group and chats that had discussions about the toolkit, the cops said, adding that these prompted the decision to place her under arrest.
“Her arrest was made in the presence of her mother and local police. Her lawyer was informed and she was produced before the court as per established procedure. In the court, she was represented by a lawyer and the same finds mention in the court order,” said joint commissioner Prem Nath.
Addressing a press conference, Delhi Police said its first stop was the house of suspect Nikita, who is now on the run. “Her questioning and examination of her devices revealed that a woman named Puneet, who is based in Canada, connected Disha, Nikita and Shantanu with each other and to the pro-Khalistan Poet,” said the joint CP. Based on the information gathered from searches at Nikita’s house, separate teams were sent to Beed district to question Shantanu and to Bengaluru for investigating Disha.
“The team in Bengaluru was able to extract highly incriminating information from Disha’s phone. This information made it clear that Disha, along with her colleagues, Shantanu and Nikita, created and sent the toolkit Google document to others,” said Prem Nath. Delhi Police said that the main aim of the toolkit was to create misinformation and disaffection against the lawfully elected government.
“The toolkit sought to artificially amplify fake news and other falsehoods and precipitate action on 26 January,” said the joint CP. Police said after the violence on 26 January, a large number of instances of fake news, manipulated/edited videos instigating disaffection and misleading propaganda posts spreading discontent were observed on social media. “On 4 February, while monitoring social media, we came across a Google document titled Toolkit on Twitter.
There was mention of physical action on 26 January and entering Delhi for the kisan rally and returning to theborder. “…Keeping in mind all these facts, Delhi Police registered a case under Sections 124-A, 153, 153-A and 120-B of IPC pertaining to sedition etc on 4 February 2021, and started investigations,” the joint commissioner said.
Delhi Police spoke about one Pieter Friedrich mentioned in the toolkit document, saying they are probing why he was mentioned and how he was connected to the suspects in their case.
“The suspect has been running psy ops against India at ISI’s behest. He has been on the radar of the Indian security establishment since 2006. He first figured as an associate of Khalistani supporter Bhajan Singh Bhinder, alias Iqbal Chaudhary,” DCP said DCP Manishi Chandra. Bhinder, police said, came on the radar of US authorities after he attempted to purchase military-grade weapons for Khalistan groups.