I deserved to be there: Climate activist Disha Ravi after she couldn't attend COP26 as passport was withheld 

"We don't need reforms to the system because reforms don't play out in real life. We need abolition of the carceral state," she wrote in her piece
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

Disha Ravi, the Bengaluru-based climate activist, would have been at the recently concluded 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), only if her passport wasn't denied. She detailed this and much more like bringing up "India's obsession with preserving caste order", "slapping citizens with sedition charges" in her piece for The Independent, a British online newspaper. She was supposed to report for Grist, a non-profit news organisation and had to get past two hurdles to do so, get a passport and file for an exception in the court.  

It may be recalled that the young climate activist was arrested and then bail was granted in February 2021 for the 'toolkit' case, she was not allowed to leave India for the duration of her proceedings. But citing the Ministry of External Affairs' notice that those citizens against whom proceedings are pending before a criminal court are indeed entitled to a passport, she went ahead and applied for it. Despite following all the rules, which involved two court hearings, two police visits and two passport office visits, her passport was withheld. "To be an incarnated person in India is to be denied civil liberties," she wrote in her piece.

Disha Ravi also wrote about how her time in Tihar Jail had taught her a lot and that most of her fellow inmates were from "economically exploited, Muslim, Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi backgrounds. More importantly, most of them were undertrial." She went on to quote 2019 NCRB data and to substantiate her point about undertrials and also quoted a study by Delhi-based lawyer Abhinav Sekhri to note the "lack of clear guidelines identifying which types of offenses should allow fo arrest without a warrant or deny the presumption of bail allows for the simple forfeiture of liberty."

READ ALSO : Delhi court sends 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi to one-day police custody 

"I deserved to be there," Disha Ravi stated and went on to add that, "The denial of my passport led to the denial of my physical presence at Cop26. The denial of my civil liberties is a chunk of the larger problem of the criminal justice system in India."

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