Mumbai court stops arrest of associate of 22-year-old climate activist

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People hold placards during a protest against the arrest of 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, in Bengaluru, India, February 15, 2021. REUTERS/Samuel Rajkumar

MUMBAI (Reuters) – A Mumbai court on Wednesday granted bail to an associate of a 22-year-old climate activist whose arrest for promoting an action plan for farmers’ protests has caused outrage across the country.

Police had sought the arrest of Nikita Jacob, a Mumbai-based lawyer, for allegedly working together with activist Disha Ravi on a “tool-kit” or a document that it said was used to foment violence during a mass protest by farmers in Delhi last month.

Ravi, an activist linked to Swedish climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, was arrested over the weekend on charges of sedition and remains in police custody.

But Jacob petitioned a court in Mumbai to stop the police from carrying out her own arrest warrant.

“The court has granted her three weeks interim relief,” Sanjukta Dey, Jacob’s lawyer, told reporters outside the court.

“There is nothing in the tool kit about violence, it is only for creating awareness about farm laws, it’s not for creating violence,” Dey added.

Dey said that Jacob had already been questioned by police on the document and she was ready to cooperate with them in their investigations into the events of Jan. 26, when farmers stormed the historic Red Fort in the old quarter of Delhi while the country was marking the Republic Day.

Thunberg tweeted a link to the “tool-kit” in early February, drawing international attention to the farmers’ campaign against the Indian government’s move to deregulate agriculture produce markets and open them to private players. She later deleted that post.

Politicians, students and activists have held protests against the arrest of Ravi, a founding member of the local arm of Thunberg’s Fridays for Future climate change movement. On Wednesday, the student wing of the main opposition Congress party staged a protest in Delhi demanding her release.

A lawyer for Ravi has declined to comment. Her arrest comes at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government faces allegations it is suppressing dissent.

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