Solidarity meet on 20th February 2021 at Peoples Plaza, Hyderabad.
The solidarity meet organised by Swecha was for demanding the release of Disha Ravi who was unjustly arrested and put in judicial remand by Delhi Police. Disha Ravi is a founding member of the Indian branch of Fridays for Future, a famous International organisation which fights against climate change. The major reason cited by the Delhi police for her arrest was that “She shared a toolkit”, this was posted by the Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg from Sweden. Delhi police also have lodged an FIR against Greta for doing so. So all the people who shared or apparently actively discussed promoting this toolkit were alleged as “co-conspirators of a crime against the nation”!
Yes the case and accusations are thin and a properly functioning judiciary should never have allowed judicial remand of Disha Ravi without proper evidence. For any sane person who is following the news on Disha Ravi should have apprehensions on his/her “Freedom of Speech”! Its infact ridiculous to see Right wing media chanting “Toolkit” and when we check out whats a toolkit and why was she arrested for it? Its a document planning a peaceful demonstration and since she edited it, she can be labelled as co-conspirator and be arrested using some draconian “Anti Sedition” law!
The solidarity meet demanding the release of Disha Ravi was attended by 30 people from Swecha a subsidary of Free Software Movement of India. They expressed their concern over shrinking democratic space where citizens are not allowed to freely express their opinion. Another important issue raised by the members of Free Software Movement of India was about the privacy of Disha Ravi. They expressed their disgust towards the tech companies like Google which was collaborating with this illegal violation of Digital rights of Disha Ravi for her privacy. This clearly exposes the intentions of big companies to join the State in oppressing people who have organised themselves and came out to protest which in turn also signifies how these tech companies are aiding the deprivation of basic citizen rights.
Kiran Chandra, General Secretary of FSMI who led this solidarity meet was lamenting on how parents are telling their children to not speak freely “political stuff” online on Social Media or Whatsapp as they might get arrested. She was in fact arrested just for asking people to read an article posted by PARI. PARI which is short form for Peoples Archive of Rural India is a great collection of articles on farmer distress written by the Ramson Magassey award winning journalist P Sainath who is reputed to be one of the best journalists writing about farmers in India. Kiran Chandra demanded Disha Ravis immediate release as well as dropping of all charges against her and expressed sadness on the whole issue which is a bad direction for the entire nation.
The other members were vocal in demanding her release, they infact put up clear posters explaining some basic points like “What is a Toolkit?”, “Why was Disha Ravi arrested?”, “What does Anti Sedition law state” etc. One poster was suggesting to delete the chatting app Whatsapp and install the Free Software alternative Signal. This poster is in fact coming from the FSMI suggestion for people to move away from these big tech companies and use Free Software in order to protect our basic fundamental right of “Right to Privacy”, which was clearly violated in Disha Ravi’s case with the help of these big tech companies.