Slapping a terror-related charge under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, against those who opposed the Environment Impact Assessment draft of 2020, the Delhi Police drew flak internationally for its bizarre move and had to withdraw the same after Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg tweeted against it. While we are in the midst of a health and climate emergency and at the heart of a pandemic, the EIA Draft 2020 issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change proposes to weaken environmental regulation and silence affected communities by favouring the industries and largely neglecting the balance between sustainable development and environment protection. Also Read - 'Bhagat Singh Would be in Jail Today': Netizens Agitate After NIA Books Bittu Sonowal Under UAPA For Writing 'Lal Salam'-'Comrade' on Facebook
As environmentalists and climate change activists across the country heavily criticised it, nature lovers across India came together to object to EIA Draft 2020 by sending mails to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar since the Delhi High court established that the last day to send in objections to this is August 11. The contents of the mails opposing the draft digitally, through open letter movements was provided by three national environmental advocacy groups – Fridays For Future, Let India Breathe and There Is No Earth B, which launched digital campaigns for the same.
However, on the complaint of Javadekar regarding multiple emails he had been receiving, “with the subject name similar to EIA2020”, the Delhi Police not only took down the websites without prior notice or reasonable expectation during the peak time of awareness and campaigning but also slapped them with terror charges under UAPA.
Despite it being a youth-centric movement, especially by children to save the environment, the complaint stated, “website depicts objectionable contents and unlawful activities or terrorist act, which are dangerous for the peace, tranquillity and sovereignty of India.” Fridays for Future, however, contradicted by tweeting, “Govt muzzles young environmental voices in India from objecting the dilution of Draft EIA Notification: Youth environmental movement @FFFIndia slapped with bizarre allegations by authorities &silenced by digital censorship for facilitating ‘too many emails’ to the MOEFCC (sic)”
The desperate move of the MoEFCC garnered flak globally since Greta Thunberg supported her Indian arm of Fridays For Future and tweeted, “Please read, share and support Fridays For Future India! (sic)”
Within a few hours, the terror charges were withdrawn through Fridays for Future India’s Twitter handle claimed that they had not received an official word about the notice being withdrawn and that the website was still inaccessible. The tweet read, “http://fridaysforfuture.in has been restored! We still don’t have any official communications or updates from the authorities, but our website has been unblocked and is fully operational as of around 11:15 AM IST today @internetfreedom (sic)”
As per a report in NDTV, the police has now claimed that the terror notice was sent “mistakenly”.
As the website slowly came live, Bollywood actor Dia Mirza extended her support saying, “Good to know. Keep spreading environmental awareness and ensuring public participation.”