On Thursday, the Delhi Police filed an First Information Report against the creators of a “toolkit” tweeted by climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg in her messages expressing support for the farmers’ protests in India.
The police said that it was evidence of a conspiracy that resulted in violence on Republic Day, when one section of participants in a tractor rally in Delhi deviated from the planned route and entered the Red Fort.
A toolkit, one social media campaigner explained, “is a booklet or document created to explain a cause or issue. It identifies approaches to address the issue from the grassroots level.”
On Wednesday, Thunberg deleted one tweet about a toolkit and replaced it with another, explaining that the earlier document had been updated. But several pro-government social media users, including VK Singh, the minister of state for road transport and highways, detected a nefarious plan in this.
“Need to investigate the parties which are pulling the strings of this evil machinery,” Singh said in a tweet. “Instructions were laid out clearly as to the ‘how’, ‘when’ and ‘what’. Conspiracies at this scale often get exposed and ultimately it took the hasty tweet of Greta, who with other international celebrities suddenly turned sensitive towards farmer issues.”
Several other Twitter users expressed similar sentiments.
Thunberg’s message of support for the protests came shortly after Barbados-born pop star Rihanna tweeted a CNN article about the internet cuts imposed in several parts of Haryana in an attempt to disrupt the swelling agitation by farmers against three new agricuture laws that they believe will undermine their livelihood.
Several other international celebrities joined the chorus, several top-notch basketball players among them.
The “toolkit” tweeted by Thunberg, explains that it is “meant to enable anyone unfamiliar with the ongoing farmers protests in India to better understand the situation and make decisions on how to support the farmers based on their own analysis”.
The note briefly explains why farmers are protesting: “Instead of being supported to become self-reliant and prosperous, a majority of farmers are increasingly being subjected to the control of large corporations and international institutions whose sole focus is profits, and necessarily involves increased exploitation of nature. The same destructive forces that are destroying the planet are the ones taking over the lives of our country’s most populous and important demographic, subjecting them to increasing hegemony and repeating similar patterns of privatization being seen across the globe – from the Philippines to Colombia.”
It adds: “This is not just about one country and its oppressed peoples, it’s about common people across the world having the opportunity to be self-sufficient, feel secure about providing for their families, and live well. On their own terms, as any democracy true to its name should facilitate.”
The toolkit goes on to suggest some “urgent actions” sympathisers could undertake to show their support for the farmers. These are routine actions that are permitted in any democracy.
“1. Tweet your support to the Indian Farmers. Use hashtag #FarmersProtest #StandWithFarmers
2. Call/Email any of your govt representatives and ask them to take action, Sign online Petitions and take action to Divest from fossil fuel industries.
3. Organise an on-ground action near the closest Indian Embassy, Media House or your local Govt. office on 13th/14th February, 2021. Share pictures on social media using the hashtag #FarmersProtest #StandWithFarmers
It encourages sympathisers to “either find protests happening in your city/state/country and participate in large (or small) numbers or organize one. In addition to the options below, you are encouraged to organise solidarity protests either at/near Indian Embassies, near your local Govt. offices or offices. Do continue to organise gatherings as and when possible.”
Read the entire document here.
Communications consultant Asmita Ghosh took to Twitter to explain why and how social justice campaigns use toolkits.
Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this article stated that the Delhi Police had filed an FIR against Greta Thunberg. The police clarified at a press conference that the FIR has not been filed against Thunberg but against the creator of the informational toolkit that she tweeted. No one has been named in the case yet.