The 18-year-old is accused of promoting enmity and participating in a criminal conspiracy for her tweets in support of the farmers’ protest.
Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg speaks at a climate change rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, US November 8, 2019. Photo: Reuters/Chris Keane/Files
The Delhi police said today its investigation into an “overseas conspiracy” enmeshed in the farmer protests was not against Greta Thunberg but a “toolkit” that she had tweeted, allegedly linked to a “Khalistani group”.
“Delhi Police has taken cognizance of a toolkit document found on a social media handle that predates and indicates a copycat execution of a conspiracy behind the January 26 violence. The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India,” Delhi Police Special Commissioner Praveer Ranjan said, referring to a Republic Day tractor rally that dissolved into chaos and clashes in the capital.
“We have registered a case for spreading disaffection against the government of India – it’s regarding sedition – and disharmony between groups on religious, social and cultural grounds, and criminal conspiracy to give shape to such a plan,” the officer added.
Asked whether Greta Thunberg, 18, had been named in the FIR, he clarified: “We have not named anybody in the FIR. It is only against the creators of the toolkit.”
When reporters pressed him to specify who shared the toolkit, Mr Ranjan said: “You guys are aware of it. I don’t want to name it here.”
Greta Thunberg had last evening tweeted a “toolkit” for supporting the farmers’ protest, but this was focused on the Republic Day protests last week. She deleted the post after a short while.
This morning, the Swedish climate activist posted a fresh “toolkit” with the message: “Here’s an updated toolkit by people on the ground in India if you want to help. (They removed their previous document as it was outdated).” The new document called for protests on February 13 and 14.
The Delhi Police said the creator of the “toolkits”, an organization calling itself the’ Poetic Justice Foundation, is a Khalistani group.
“This toolkit has a particular section titled ‘action plan’. It says digital strikes have to be conducted through hashtags on or before January 26; then tweet storms from January 23 onwards; physical action on January 26; and it says watch out or join farmers going into Delhi and back to the borders,” Mr Ranjan said.
“If you go by the unfolding of events of January 26, it reveals a copycat execution of the action plan. It is a matter of concern for Delhi police. Definitely the intention of the creators of the toolkit was to create disharmony among various social, religious and cultural groups and encourage disaffection and ill-will against the government of India.”
Reacting to the police case, Greta Thunberg tweeted: “I still #StandWithFarmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that. #FarmersProtest.”
The young activist is among several international figures that have tweeted in support of the farmer protests over the past two days, drawing global attention to the agitation that started November-end against three farm laws enacted by the centre.
It started with a post on Tuesday evening by pop star Rihanna, who has 100 million followers on Twitter. As several US lawmakers and others followed suit, the government put out a caustic statement yesterday warning against the “temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments”. In a detailed statement, it said the protests were by “a very small section of farmers” in parts of India, and that the farm laws were aimed at reforms and were enacted after full debate in parliament.
Responding to the news, Thunberg doubled down on her support to the farmers. “I still #StandWithFarmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that,” she tweeted.
On Wednesady, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) responded to the international attention brought to the farmers’ protest, mainly due to Rihanna and Thunberg’s tweets, by issuing a statement which said “sensationalist” social media posts are not responsible. The statement ended with the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.
Many actors and sportspersons also backed the MEA’s response, in what looked like a coordinated campaign.