Bengaluru, Feb 20
A group of prominent people, including artists, environmental and social activists on Friday held a virtual press conference, saying climate activist Disha Ravi must be released immediately. They also demanded withdrawal of all charges made against her.
The virtual press conference was jointly organised by National Alliance of People's Movements, Coalition for Environmental Justice in India and People's Union for Civil Liberties here.
The activists also said warrants against Shantanu Muluk and Nikita Jacob must be dropped.
Magsaysay Award winner and human rights activist Sandeep Pandey described that unable and unwilling to engage with the protesting farmers, the Union Government is busy trying to use the 'Khalistani brush' to tarnish their movement and those who support them.
"This government has gone to the extent that including the current youth environmental activists. This is shameful over-reach and characteristic of a bully state," he slammed.
He added that the disturbingly frequent use of undemocratic laws like The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) or the ease with which charges of colonial era sedition charges are being levelled, is far higher and more frequently employed than even during colonial times.
"These have been used against many senior activists, professionals, educators, journalists and others; now they are being used against very young people," Pandey lamented.
A Jaipur-based social activist, thinker and People's Union for Civil Liberties member Kavita Srivatsava asserted that no further action should be taken against youth who have been supporting the farmers' movement and social and environmental justice causes.
"Disha Ravi's arrest is the government's intent to criminalise dissent," she added.
Noted environmentalist, Ashish Kothari said that these actions are aimed at diverting public attention from the most pressing needs of the nation, such as the farmers' crisis, the ecological collapse, and the economic insecurity of hundreds of millions of people, all intensified by the ongoing selling out of natural resources to corporate interests.
"We should not see ongoing farmers strike and attack on the environment as two separate issues. They are inherently interlinked. So anyone who supports farmers or environment causes are directly or indirectly supporting each other" he said.