Delhi Police on Monday said that climate activist Disha Ravi had shared the ‘toolkit’ document related to the farmers’ protest to Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg on the Telegram app and also coaxed her to act on it.
Addressing a press conference, Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime) Prem Nath said, “Disha who is associated with environmental movement call ‘Fridays for Future’ sent the toolkit to Greta Thunberg on Telegram app and coaxed her to act on it.”
Giving details on the investigation on “Twitter storm” related to the farmers’ protest and January 26 tractor rally, Nath said: “On February 4, while monitoring social media, we came across a Google document titled toolkit on Twitter. Initial investigation of this toolkit document revealed that it was created by pro-Khalistani group name Poetic Justice Foundation and people associated with it.”
JCP Nath added, “One portion of the toolkit document mentions action points then prior actions, as you are aware there was a digital strike through a hashtag on January 26.”
The second part of the same document mentions tasks such as disruption of India’s cultural heritage and targeting Indian embassies abroad, he added.
The time-bound action points and the programme given in the toolkit when viewed in the context of actual developments in Delhi clearly showed the action plan that was formulated in the toolkit was implemented on the ground or executed in a copy-cat manner, the official added.
Keeping in mind all these facts, a case was registered and an investigation was taken up by CyPAD (Cyber Prevention Awareness Detection), the cyber unit of Delhi Police, JCP Nath said.
During the investigation many screenshots of the toolkit were available on open source and were investigated, he said. When the probe was able to fetch enough information, a search warrant was obtained from Court on February 9, against Nikita Jacob, one of the editors of the toolkit Google document, he added.
“A team reached Mumbai and conducted searches at her (Nikita Jacob) residence on February 11. She and her associates Shantanu and Disha had created the document. The email account created by Shantanu is the owner of this document all others are its editors,” the police official said.
A person named Puneet who is based in Canada connected these people to the Pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation and through them created a toolkit tilted global farmer strike and global day of action on January 26, the police official said.
“On January 11, Nikita and Shantanu attended a Zoom meeting organised by Poetic Justice Foundation in which modalities were chalked out, he said.”
Based on the information gathered, separate teams were sent to Maharashtra and Bengaluru, however, Shantanu was not found at his house and we are still searching for him,” he informed.
On the next morning when the investigation team reached Nikita’s residence, she was found absconding and had not yet joined the investigation. In Bengaluru, the team examined Disha and was able to extract highly incriminating information from her phone, this information made it clear along with her colleagues Shantanu and Nikita created and sent a toolkit document to others, the official added.
The main aim of the toolkit was to create misinformation, disaffection against the lawfully enacted government, Delhi police said.
The toolkit sought to artificially amplify the fake news through various tweets which they have created in the form of a “tweet bank” and they also sought public to participate in the action on January 26, which is celebrated as Republic Day of India, the officer further said.
“Based on this incriminating evidences collected against Disha from her device and view of the fact that Nikita didn’t cooperate and she fled from her house, we acted against Disha because she has deleted a WhatsApp group which she created to coordinate among the various members for the toolkit,” he said.
Disha was arrested in the presence of her mother and in presence of the SHO of the area concerned and the due process was adopted for conducting her medical test and producing her in the court, JCP Prem Nath said.
The court has granted five days of police custody for Disha, adding that the rest of the investigation is underway, he said.
While many in the BJP defended Delhi Police, several opposition leaders accused the government of “murdering democracy” by using force against a 21-year-old and called for her release.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the opposition offensive following Ravi’s arrest and said the country will not be silenced.
“Your lips are free to speak. Say that the truth is still alive. They are scared, not the country,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Defending the action, Union minister and BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tweeted: “If age is the criteria then Param Veer Chakra Second Lt Arun Khetarpal, martyred at 21 is who I am proud of. Not some toolkit propagandists.”
Delhi Police had earlier asked Google and other social media giants to provide information about e-mail id, URLs and social media accounts related to the creators of the “toolkit” shared by Thunberg and others on Twitter in connection with the farmers’ protest.
(With agency inputs)