Activist Disha Ravi breaks silence on sedition arrest, says she felt ‘violated’

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FILE PHOTO: People hold placards during a protest against the arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi, in Bengaluru, India, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian climate activist linked to Greta Thunberg said on Saturday she felt “violated” by her arrest last month on sedition charges and her treatment by the media, her first comments on a case that sparked international criticism.

Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old vegan and member of Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, was charged in February over an online document about months-long protests by Indian farmers.

Ten days after her arrest and following widespread criticism, a court in New Delhi granted her bail, citing “scanty and sketchy evidence” that she was involved in fomenting violence.

“I had coerced myself into believing that the only way I would be able to live through this was by tricking myself into thinking that this wasn’t happening to me,” Ravi said in a statement.

“My actions were pronounced guilty – not in the court of law, but on flat screens.”

Police say the document Ravi created stoked violence on Jan. 26, India’s Republic Day, when some protesting farmers broke free of a planned march and clashed with police.

Angry at new agricultural laws they say benefit large private buyers at the expense of growers, tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of New Delhi since late last year.

Swedish climate activist Thunberg, popstar Rihanna, and U.S. activist Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, all tweeted in support of the protests last month, drawing a rebuke from India‘s foreign ministry.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal; Editing by William Mallard)

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