The cyber-crime cell of the Delhi Police has registered an FIR on charges of “sedition”, “criminal conspiracy” and “promoting hatred” against the creators of a ‘toolkit’ on farmer protests, which was shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg. The 18-year-old deleted the original tweet on Wednesday but tweeted another toolkit on Wednesday night.
The police said that the sequence of events in the farmer protests, including the January 26 violence during the tractor rally, was a “copycat” of the alleged action plan shared in the toolkit. Special CP (Crime Branch) Praveer Ranjan said a preliminary enquiry indicated that the toolkit in question was created by “pro-Khalistani organisation” Poetic Justice Foundation.
When asked if Thunberg had been named in the FIR, Ranjan said it was filed against unknown persons. “We have not named anybody. It is only against the creators of the toolkit, which is a matter of investigation.”
Ranjan said that with the farmers’ protest going on for long, the Delhi Police has been monitoring social media, and had identified almost 300 handles. “The Delhi Police has registered several cases against those handles which have been pushing either fake news or spreading some kind of rumours for the purpose of disaffection and ill-will. In the process… we have come across one particular document uploaded on a social media handle on a particular platform. This toolkit has a particular section which talks of digital strikes through hashtags on and before January 26, tweet storms from January 23 onwards, physical action on January 26, and asks one to watch out or join farmers’ march into Delhi.”
The Special CP added: “If you go by the unfolding of events including the violence of January 26, it reveals a copycat execution of the action plan. Now that is a matter of concern… Definitely the intention of the creators of this toolkit is to cause disharmony among social, religious and cultural groups and encourage disaffection and ill-will against the government. It also aims at waging social, cultural and economic war against the government, and says so.”
As news of the FIR came out, Thunberg tweeted: “I still #StandWithFarmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that. #FarmersProtest.”
Thunberg also said she had deleted the previous tweet and toolkit because it had since then been “updated by people on the ground in India”. The new toolkit she tweeted aims to “enable anyone unfamiliar with the ongoing farmers protests in India to better understand the situation and make decisions on how to support the farmers based on their own analysis”.
The toolkit asks those interested to tweet their support to Indian farmers. “Use hashtag #FarmersProtest #StandWithFarmers. Call/Email any of your govt representatives and ask them to take action, Sign online Petitions and take action to Divest from fossil fuel industries,” it says.
It also asks people to “Organise an on-ground action near the closest Indian Embassy, Media House or your local Govt. office on 13th/14th February, 2021”.
The earlier toolkit included points such as distancing oneself from “monopolists and oligopolists like Adani-Ambani”.
The new document does not talk about this.
The previous toolkit had five links, titled ‘More Information — Important Links’, which are still working. One leads to a website that talks about holding protests, donating, using social media to support the cause of farmers. The website’s ‘about’ section says: “We are a volunteer group of individuals in Canada, the USA and the UK, who are passionate about social justice issues affecting the Indian agricultural community. We feel distressed being far away from our Elders, Brothers and Sisters who are fighting for autonomy over their land.”
Another link is for a website described as a “digital home to exploring geopolitics & ideas about freedom through data, writing, & technology”. The link provides leads to a page titled ‘Do I own products linked to Ambani?’, and mentions Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani.
There is also link to a newsletter on the anti-farm law protests, and a blog on the number of farmers who have allegedly died during the protests since late November.
The Sections mentioned in the Delhi Police FIR are 124 A of the IPC (spreading disaffection against the government), 153 A (promoting hatred amongst various communities on social/cultural/religious grounds), 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), and 120 B (criminal conspiracy to give shape to such a plan).
The CP said the social media handles under watch are promoted by “some vested interest organisations for spreading disaffection against the government in the name of farmers’ agitation”, and said they had informed farmer leaders about these groups.