Indian police have arrested a woman accused of editing and circulating a document tweeted by climate activist Greta Thunberg that authorities say is anti-government.
Swedish climate activist Thunberg tweeted her backing this month for the farmers, who have been demonstrating since December against agricultural reforms they say will harm their livelihood but benefit large corporations. She shared a document which she said was a toolkit to create and spread awareness about the farmers’ complaints.
New Delhi police arrested Disha Ravi, who a police source told Reuters is a senior leader of the Indian arm of Thunberg’s Fridays for Future campaign movement. On Sunday, the 22-year-old was remanded in custody until a court hearing in five days’ time.
Local media said she had been charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy, among other offences.
Delhi police tweeted that she was an “editor” of the toolkit document and a “key conspirator in document’s formulation & dissemination”, adding that she collaborated to “spread disaffection against the Indian state”.
Earlier this month, police said the campaign material was aimed at waging a cultural war against the government and creating divisions among various groups in Indian society.
On 5 February crows in Delhi burned effigies of Thunberg after she tweeted support for India’s protesting farmers. Photos of Thunberg and pop singer Rihanna were set alight and banners were held aloft warning that “international interference” in Indian affairs would not be tolerated.
Thunberg became embroiled in allegations of an international criminal conspiracy against India after she tweeted a “toolkit” for people who wanted to show support for the farmers. The document included campaigning tips such as suggested hashtags and advice on how to sign petitions.
Though not named in the police case that was filed then, or in Sunday’s arrest, Thunberg’s tweet was said to have brought the Delhi police’s attention to the existence of the toolkit. Leaders in the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) said the toolkit was “evidence of international plans for attacks against India”.
A lawyer for Ravi, from the southern city of Bengaluru, was not immediately available for a comment. Local media said she was arrested in the southern city and taken by police to Delhi in the north.
The farmer protests have been mainly peaceful. However on 26 January, thousands of farmers overwhelmed police and stormed into the historic Red Fort complex in Delhi after tearing down barricades and driving tractors through roadblocks.
India’s foreign ministry hit out this month at “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments” by celebrities following posts from Thunberg and Rihanna.
Reuters contributed to this report