“Pack of lies”: Disha Ravi family lawyers dismiss social media claims about activist’s religion

NB: It is a repulsive, but expected response to any controversy involving the Sangh Parivar and its army of trolls that the first thing they like to do is to cite the religion of a critic. In this case, they have begun circulating a rumour that the activist Disha Ravi is a Christian. It is a significant comment on their moral and logical training, that (A) they consider this to be some sort of self-explanatory 'accusation' - as if there's something bad about being a Christian; and (B), they did not bother to check whether this was true. Turns out she is from a Lingayat family and describes herself as an atheist. Since the Great Leader has coined a new acronym for FDI, let me suggest another: Feku Destroying India. DS

A panel of lawyers being consulted by the family of arrested activist Disha A Ravi have dismissed as “a pack of lies” claims, made by some social media handles, that the climate activist is a Christian from Kerala. “A pack of lies is being spread on social media by trolls. There is no truth in it,” said R Prasanna, an advocate who is among a group of lawyers being consulted by the family. “What does it matter what her name is – she is a girl with a conscience,” said a senior advocate who is part of the panel advising the family of the activist.

Disha Annappa Ravi is from a Lingayat family, one of the advocates said, her mother Manjula Nanjaiah and father Ravi Annappa have roots in farming. In an interview last year with US author Gayle Kimball - as part of a series on Gen Z girl climate activists - Disha Ravi had stated that she was an atheist and that she did not follow any religion like her parents did. She also said that her parents were supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government at the Centre while she disagreed with the policies of the government. In the interview, Disha Ravi stated that she became aware of issues concerning the environment and farmers early in her life from discussions in her family about the depletion of groundwater in places in south Karnataka.

“The large support that Disha has received has been a source of hope for the family. They have been advised not to speak to the media or comment on the merits of the case against Disha until a clearance is given by the lawyers,” an advocate in the panel advising the family said. Disha’s parents, who live in different cities, have rallied together to seek help for their only daughter since her arrest on February 13 by the Delhi Special Police. “Many lawyers in Delhi and other places have come forward to offer help in fighting the case for the family,” an advocate said.

Meanwhile, a collective of youths engaged in environmental protection campaigns have come out in support of Disha Ravi. “As volunteer-based collectives with no formal organizational setups, our members are scattered far and wide and often work independently. Since we do not work in offices we depend on different technological tools that help people situated in different geographical locations to work together. Toolkits are one such tool of the many that is used often,” the environment youth collective has stated. “They (toolkits) are also used by various different groups, companies, institutes etc to systematize their work. And that is all that a toolkit is,” the collective has said in a statement.

Individual members of environment protection collectives – some who are as young as 11 years old – have become fearful of speaking out in support of Disha Ravi following her arrest. “Can anyone please let me know what is seditious in that toolkit?” a Fridays For Future India volunteer has asked on social media. “To imply that toolkits are some conspiracy gizmos used by foreign forces to destabilize India is as stupid as the ‘cow was abducted by aliens’ rubbish. This controversy is baseless and has no merit,” the youth collective of environment activists has stated.

“We are all part of a large network of voluntary, non funded youth based collectives. We work on various awareness initiatives on climate change and environmental degradation that is happening all around India. As part of this collective, we have been actively supporting the farmers’ protests – because it is our belief that agriculture and the environment are deeply interlinked issues,” they said.

“We know Ms Disha is a member of this vast collective network. We know her to be a person of immense integrity who has nothing but the country’s best interests at heart. She, like us, is invested in this work that we do because she knows and understands the severity and seriousness of the climate crisis all of us find ourselves in,” the collective has stated. “Like all other volunteers, she also has been participating in various different campaigns to draw attention to this climate crisis. We are sure that her social media and personal equipment that have been confiscated will reflect nothing other than the immense concern that she, like us, has for this world. We are therefore, needless to say, extremely worried about her safety and well being,” the collective has said.


COLIN TODHUNTER: Farmers’ Protest in India: Price of Failure Will Be immense // Global Corporations' plans for India's agriculture

Nivedita Menon: Toolkits of democracy and a paranoid Hindu Rashtra

Express Editorial: Weaponising an advocacy document to arrest an activist signals paranoia, not democratic power.

Umberto Eco on Eternal Fascism, or Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt (1995)

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