The intention behind the January 26 violence by protesting farmers in New Delhi was to do a “digital strike” and propagate a “toolkit” to malign the image of India, Delhi Police said on Monday. Police was providing details of its investigation into the circulation of the toolkit, shared by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter with a tweet supporting the farmers’ agitation.
Police said Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old Bengaluru-based who was arrested yesterday, Nikita Jacob, a Bombay High Court lawyer against whom the police has issued a warrant, Mo Dhaliwal, a Canadian-born Sikh associated with the pro-Khalistan organisation ‘Poetic Justice Foundation’ (PJF) and Shantanu, an engineer who runs an NGO, attended a Zoom meeting organised by the PJF in which the course of action for January 26 was decided.
Police further stated that the motive was to spread misinformation. During the meeting, the instance of a farmer’s death during the Republic Day chaos was also discussed, and it was stated that he died due to bullet injuries. Police had earlier clarified that the farmer had died after his tractor crashed.
Police said, “On February 4, we came across a toolkit on social media. Initial investigation has revealed that it was formed by the PJF and the people associated with it. Whatever happened on January 26 was a copycat execution of the toolkit.”
Police further stated that Jacob’s house in Mumbai was searched, and several incriminating documents were recovered from it. “Her electronic gadgets were also scanned…The email account provided in the toolkit document belongs to Shantanu. On January 11, Nikita and Shantanu attended a Zoom meeting organised by the PJF in which the course of action for January 26 was decided.”
Separate teams were dispatched in Maharashtra and Bengaluru after police recovered information from Jacob’s device. In Bengaluru, the team examined Disha Ravi and found out that she, Shantanu and Nikita had edited the toolkit. Disha had shared the toolkit with Greta Thunberg on Telegram and then deleted the WhatsApp group created to spread it. “Due procedure was followed when Disha was arrested. She was arrested in the presence of her mother and the SHO,” they said. Disha’s Telegram account has also revealed that other social media accounts associated with the toolkit were also deleted.
People with a large number of followers on social media were roped in to disseminate the toolkit, police said. Peter Frederick was responsible for planning the hashtags, which personalities to tag and how to propagate the contents of the toolkit, the said. Frederick has been on the radars of Indian security agencies since 2006, they added. “Peter is an associate of BS Bhinder…Whether Disha and Nikita were in touch with Peter directly or not is subject to investigation,” they said.
The toolkit, police explained, was a dynamic document with hyperlinks to Google documents, a lot of which are pro-Khalistan. It was a private document, but was accidentally leaked to the public. “The document speaks for itself,” the said.