Activist Shantanu Muluk has on Monday, moved an application before the Bombay High Court seeking transit anticipatory bail, after a non-bailable warrant was issued against him by a Delhi court, in connection with the ‘toolkit’ shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg over the farmers’ protest.
Justice Vibha Kankanwadi of the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC will hear his petition today.
Muluk is one of the founders of the XR India, an organization working for the environment and creator of a platform where information regarding ongoing protests would be displayed and modes of peaceful protest were given.
In his petition, filed through advocate Satej Jadhav, Shantanu sought transit anticipatory bail for a period of four weeks so that he could approach the court concerned in Delhi to apply for pre-arrest bail.
On the other hand, Shantanu argued that the registration of case under Section 153-A (promoting enmity between different communities) of the Indian Penal Code is a blatant abuse of legal provisions by the State to subdue the voice of rightful dissent.
Further, while contending that he and his colleagues are innocent and had bonafide intentions with regard to the farmer’s protests, Shantanu asserted that “the charges against him will be destructive for his life and his family to carry a false blot of being an anti-national.”
“It is submitted that apparently vendetta has trickled down from politics to the house of a common man making a mockery of the rights and principles enshrined in the constitution of India. That such vendetta which is the dark face of authoritarianism and is the real tool kit for the devastation of not only of democracy but also basic human rights,” the petition states.
The present application comes on the same day when Nikita Jacob, a lawyer, and activist from Mumbai, sought transit bail in the Principal Bench of the Bombay High Court. Shantanu also stated that climate activist Disha Ravi’s arrest is another reason as to why he is apprehending his own arrest.
Claims made by Delhi Police
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police officials have claimed that Shantanu had joined the arrested climate activist Disha Ravi and lawyer Nikita Jacob in creating the toolkit with the aim of ‘tarnishing the image of India’ and collaborated with pro-Khalistani elements.
The Delhi Police said earlier in the day that Ravi, who has been sent to five-day police custody, created the toolkit detailing digital support for protests against the three farm laws, in collaboration with Jacob and Muluk. This information, the police claimed, was revealed by Ravi during her interrogation in Bengaluru. “The email account created by Shantanu is the owner of this doc and all others are editors,” Prem Nath, joint commissioner of police of the cyber cell, said.
Further, Mr. Prem Nath said that Shantanu and Nikita attended a Zoom meeting organized by the pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation to decide the modalities to create the toolkit.
“Based on the information gathered from searches at Nikita’s house, separate teams were sent to Maharashtra’s Beed district and Bengaluru for investigation regarding Shantanu and Disha Ravi,” a Delhi Police official said.
Contentions by Shantanu’s family
On the other hand, Shantanu’s family claimed that Delhi Police officials raided their house in Beed, Maharashtra in connection with the ‘toolkit’ case and questioned them for the last two days. They submitted that the officials collected their bank account details as well.
Family members said that Shantanu, a native of the Beed district, had always been very emotional about farmers’ issues and environmental conservation.
“We are now worried for him. We last spoke with him eight days ago,” a family member said to the sources. Meanwhile, Shantanu’s uncle Sachin Muluk contended that attempts were being made to defame the family for no reason.
As per reports, Shantanu’s father stated that the family had no idea about his whereabouts.
“He was working in Aurangabad and had gone to Pune in connection with some work. Now, for two days, Delhi Police has been questioning us. We are cooperating with them. Shantanu works for the environment and was thoughtful about the farmers’ agitation,” he said.