Explained: What is the Toolkit case?
Delhi Police personnel visited Twitter India offices in South Delhi and Gurugram on 24 May 2021 to serve notice in person in connection with their probe into the 'Congress Toolkit' case after finding the company's reply ambiguous.
Delhi Police Spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal stated, "Delhi Police is inquiring into a complaint in which a clarification is sought from Twitter regarding the classification of a tweet by Sambit Patra as 'manipulative'. It appears that Twitter has some information that is not known to us, on the basis of which they have classified it as such. This information is relevant to the enquiry. Special Cell which is conducting the enquiry wants to find out the truth. Twitter, which has claimed to know the underlying truth, should clarify."
Earlier, in yet another 'Toolkit' controversy, on 18 May 2021, several Bhartiya Janata Party leaders tweeted a document claiming as 'Congress Toolkit' and alleged that it is created to malign the image of the ruling party and Prime Minister Modi by labelling the new strain of COVID-19 as the 'Modi Strain'.
However, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra dubbed the allegations as fake and has filed a police complaint about forgery against BJP Chief JP Nadda, National Spokesperson Sambit Patra, and others who shared the 'toolkit'.
When country was in the midst of a health crisis & every single unit of society from an individual to administration were rising up to the challenge , here was @INCIndia spreading fake , negative news & stirring up discontent . Disgusting . #CongressToolkitExposed pic.twitter.com/L5OWbIAvHN— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) May 18, 2021
Don’t waste time spreading lies, wake up and start saving lives. pic.twitter.com/4v6eQ1zV2m— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) May 18, 2021
Earlier, on 4 February 2021, Swedish climate activist Great Thunberg tweeted a toolkit related to the ongoing farmers' protest in the outskirts of the National Capital against the three contentious Farm Laws 2020. Since then, an environmentalist, a lawyer and an engineer-- Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk-- landed in trouble.
What is a toolkit?
Nowadays, people have started registering their opinions and views on social media. Activists too, now collaborate by means of a 'toolkit' to explain the protest and how people can support it.
The toolkit is a document key to digital-era protests and is equivalent to pamphlets and fliers that are used by the protestors on the streets. In simple words, it is a document that educates and amplifies the cause of the protest. It also provides a roadmap on how to take the protest forward, underscoring what needs to be done, when and how.
Congress Toolkit Case
Congress Toolkit, as alleged by the Bharatiya Janata Party, was shared by BJP leaders accusing that the opposition is trying to tarnish the image of the ruling party as well as Prime Minister Modi. However, Congress has dubbed the allegations as fake.
What does the Congress Toolkit mention?
The toolkit shared by several BJP leaders has instructions on 'Cornering Prime Minister Modi and BJP over COVID-19 mismanagement'. The document states, "Use the phrase 'Indian strain' whenever talking of the new mutant. Social media volunteers may call it 'Modi strain'."
Over the Central Vista project, the document highlights points for political mobilisation such as in panel discussions, the project as Modi's personal house and more.
The document instructs to mobilise former civil servants to raise questions about the PM-CARES fund like they did earlier. Another section was on 'India COVID: Kumbh Mela pilgrims turn into super-spreaders.
Delhi Police Visits Twitter India Offices Amid 'Congress Toolkit' row
18 May 2021: BJP National Spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted screenshots of what he claimed as 'Congress Toolkit', alleging that it is crested to malign the image of BJP as well as Prime Minister Modi.
Congress dubbed the allegations as fake and filed a police complaint about forgery against BJP Chief JP Nadda, National Spokesperson Sambit Patra, and others who shared the 'toolkit'.
20 May 2021: Twitter marked BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra's tweet as 'manipulated media'.
21 May 2021: Twitter marked tweets from BJP's Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Charu Pragya, Priti Gandhi, Sunil Deodhar, and Kuljeet Singh Chahal as 'manipulated media'.
24 May 2021: Delhi Police visited Twitter India offices in South Delhi and Gurugram to serve notice in person after finding the company's reply ambiguous.
The Government of India requested Twitter to remove the 'manipulated media' tag as the toolkit case is currently under investigation.
Disha Ravi Toolkit Case
On 4 February 2021, Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg extended her support to the ongoing farmers' protest in India and shared a toolkit via her official Twitter handle. However, shortly after tweeting the toolkit, she deleted it and shared an updated version of the document.
What does the toolkit mentions?
The toolkit shared by Greta Thunberg guides people on how to stand in solidarity with the ongoing farmers' protest in India. However, the original toolkit called for a digital strike on or before 26 January 2021 (Republic Day) and underscored 'carrying out protests outside Indian embassies' as one of the actions to support the cause.
It also highlighted a list of previous actions that were taken to amplify the farmers' voices online. The document also mentioned various hashtags for Twitter Storm such as #AskIndiaWhy, #FarmersProtest, and #TheWorldIsWatching.
Information related to the toolkit
Once the toolkit was made public by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, the Delhi Police asked Google and other social media companies to share information related to the toolkit such as email IDs, URLs and social media accounts of the creators of the toolkit.
Tractor March Violence
As per Delhi Police, the toolkit shared by the Swedish climate activist played a major role in turning the '26 January 2021 tractor parade' violent, leaving a few hundred police personnel injured. Further, the toolkit was not created by a handful of activists in India but in collaboration with pro-Khalistani organisations, as quoted by Delhi Police.
1- On 26 January 2021, after formal Republic Day celebrations ended at Rajpath, the farmers carried out a tractor march against the three contentious Farm Laws 2020.
2- As quoted by Delhi Police, the farmers initially agreed to carry out the march on the specified route but later agitators broke the barricades and took a detour to Red fort, clashing with security personnel amid water cannons and lathi-charge.
3- As per officials, over 120 people have been arrested so far in connection with the Republic Day 2021 violence.
The reaction of the Indian Government
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) drummed up support from the celebrities associated with the Sports and Bollywood industry with the hashtags "#IndiaTogether" and "#IndiaAgainstPropaganda".
Delhi Police Filed FIR
On 4 February 2021, Delhi Police filed an FIR against unknown people for creating and spreading the toolkit and to probe 'international conspiracy' to defame India.
The arrest of Disha Ravi
On 14 February 2021, Delhi Police arrested activist Disha Ravi for creating and editing the toolkit, which allegedly instigated the violence during the 26 January 2021 tractor parade. As per Delhi Police, Disha Ravi created and shared the toolkit with Great Thunberg.
Delhi Police alleged that Disha Ravi along with lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu Muluk created a toolkit and shared it with others to tarnish the image of India. The accused people have been booked under IPC Section 124 (A) for sedition, Section 153 (A) for promoting enmity between different sections of the society and Section 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy.
Several leaders of the opposition criticised Delhi Police for the 'illegal' arrest of environmentalist Disha Ravi in the toolkit case. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, amongst others tweeted against Disha Ravi's arrest by the Delhi Police.
Arrest of 21 yr old Disha Ravi is an unprecedented attack on Democracy. Supporting our farmers is not a crime.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 15, 2021
On 18 February 2021, Delhi High Court issued notice to the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA), News 18, and Times Now after a petition filed by Disha Ravi against the leak of the FIR filed in the toolkit case (Disha A Ravi v. State & Ors).
Disha Ravi, in her petition, stated that she is being viscerally attacked by Delhi Police and several media houses on the basis of leaked investigative matter and prejudicial press briefings.
On 23 February 2021, Disha Ravi has been granted bail by a Delhi High Court subject to two sureties of 1 lakh each.
While hearing her bail plea, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana said, "Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence on record, I do not find any palpable reason to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedents."
He dubbed the Delhi Police's reasoning about the activists conspiring to cause the violence during the farmers' tractor march on 26 January 2021 as conjecture. Delhi Police argued that 'conspiracy can be seen only through circumstantial evidence' to which the judge questioned, "So you don't have any evidence to connect Disha with the January 26 violence?"
It is to be noted that on 22 February 2021, the police sought Disha Ravi's custody to confront her with other accused in the case-- Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk. Both Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk were questioned at the Delhi Police's Cyber cell office in Dwarka, as per a senior police officer.
On 18 May 2021, the Delhi High Court reprimanded the Central Government for not filing its response to a plea by climate activist Disha Ravi for restraining the police from leaking to the media any probe material in relation to the FIR lodged against her in the toolkit case, despite the 'one-last opportunity' in March 2021.
Justice Rekha Palli said to the Centre, "For Union of India is there no last and final opportunity? This is very bad. Then what is the meaning of the court saying the last opportunity, I cannot understand that? What is the sanctity of (the court saying) last and final opportunity."
Pre-arrest bail to lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu Muluk
On 16 February 2021, Shantanu Muluk-- a suspect in connection with the toolkit-- was granted pre-arrest bail for 10 days by the Aurangabad bench of the High Court.
On 17 February 2021, the Bombay High Court granted pre-arrest bail to lawyer Nikita Jacob-- another suspect in connection with the toolkit. However, the court in its order, mentioned that the applicant is a permanent resident of Mumbai while the FIR has been filed in Delhi. Thus, the relief sought by her is temporary. If she is arrested within a three-week period, she will be released after furnishing a bond of Rs. 25,000.
It is to be noted that lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu Muluk approached Bombay High Court after a Delhi Court issued non-bailable warrants against them.