‘If Disha is anti-national for supporting farmers, are we too?’ ask young activists

‘If Disha is anti-national for supporting farmers, are we too?’ ask young activists
The arrest of 22-year-old Disha Ravi, a Bengaluru-based climate change activist, for “waging economic, social, cultural and regional war against India” by editing a toolkit for the ongoing farmers’ strike has been condemned by environmental activists, particularly younger ones. The young activists question how participating in a democratic protest can be deemed a crime. While some took to Twitter to react to the arrest, others organised protests on the ground. Joseph, a Zoology student from Kerala University who is also an environmental activist, tells TNM, “Social media has been the only hope at a time when most mainstream media outlets present stories with a certain interest, diluting facts. India as a democracy has been plummeting for a while, until the farmers started the protest and made a loud enough noise for the world to hear us. The mainstream media presented these protests differently while social media became a space for honest expressions. The arrest of Disha, who used social media to support the cause is, I feel, only another method to silence those who raise their voice against the government. The government used the voice of celebrities, who have a huge clout, to spread its propaganda. I feel the government has a well-organised system to dilute even genuine social media protests. But I don’t believe it will be over because one person was arrested. It will only make more people join the cause.’ Environment activist Padma Priya, who joined Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam tweeted, “We as a Youngster from a DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY have no rights to VOICE OUT for Social/Environmental cause? Supporting our farmers is not a CRIME. We demand that #DishaRavi be released @PMOIndia. As a YOUNGSTER & WOMAN I will stand with her #ReleaseDishaRavi (sic).” We as a Youngster from a DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY have no rights to VOICE OUT for Social/Environmental cause? Supporting our farmers is not a CRIME. We demand that #DishaRavi be released @PMOIndia. As a YOUNGSTER & WOMAN I will stand with her #ReleaseDishaRavi pic.twitter.com/jItqYvd7zA — Padma Priya (@Tamizhachi_Offl) February 15, 2021 Young activist Sruthy Sankar, who is part of an NGO called Rise Up Forum, says that Disha’s case appeared to be a fabricated one. “They talk about Disha planning the campaign in support of a pro-Khalistani group. They say she’s trying to defame the country. But she is supporting the farmers’ protest and farmers are the backbone of our country. I feel it’s a baseless allegation and I cannot at all agree with the arrest. How is supporting the farmers an act against the country? She is a citizen of this country and she has a right to express herself. If Disha becomes anti-national because she supported farmers, are we, an NGO that supported farmers by providing them medicines, also anti-national? How many of us will be labelled anti-national for supporting our farmers?” N Sai Balaji, a research scholar in climate security and the politics of climate change in agriculture, posted pictures of a protest for Disha in Bengaluru and wrote, “Students, teachers, lawyers, intellectuals & people of Bengaluru came forward to expose BJP-RSS plan to harass people who are standing in solidarity with farmers. Young India isn’t afraid. We will fight for our country.” #ReleaseDishaRavi protest at Mysore Bank circle, Karnataka. Students, teachers, lawyers, intellectuals & people of Bengaluru came forward to expose BJP-RSS plan to harass people who are standing in solidarity with farmers. Young India isn't afraid. We will fight for our country pic.twitter.com/UEIQwSUXYO — N Sai Balaji | ఎన్ సాయి బాలాజీ (@nsaibalaji) February 15, 2021

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