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Toolkit case: Disha Ravi sent to one more day in police remand; Nikita, Shantanu questioned

Toolkit case: Disha Ravi sent to one more day in police remand; Nikita, Shantanu questioned
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New Delhi: Observing that the confrontation of accused Disha Ravi with other co-accused persons is necessary as incriminating evidence had surfaced during her interrogation, a Delhi court on Monday sent the 22-year-old climate activist to one more day in police custody after her three-day judicial custody expired on Monday.

Disha's bail plea, which was taken up in a three-hour-long hearing on Saturday, is reserved for orders today (Tuesday).

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Dr Pankaj Sharma, in his order, noted: "Through collective confrontation, the role played by each of them in deletion of the original Toolkit document would come to light which is very necessary for fair investigation."

The court further noted that as the case involved allegations of "a vituperous campaign to spread hatred and dissatisfaction to disrupt peace and tranquility to undermine India's sovereignty, integrity and security", the police must be provided time to conduct custodial interrogation and confrontation.

Senior advocate Sidharth Agarwal, on behalf of Ravi, argued that the application had been filed to extract a confession and no necessity has been outlined to justify police custody remand. "If the IO wants to meet somebody after 15 days, is it precluded?... They will move an application before the court... they have the right to interrogate me, confront me after moving an application," Agarwal submitted.

The counsel further argued that the police's remand plea is "devoid of explanation" and asked why no notice was issued to co-accused persons earlier during the police custody remand of Disha. Agarwal argued that the delayed notice and purported confrontation was only to "embarrass her bail proceedings".

Disha was arrested on February 13 from Bengaluru for allegedly carrying out edits on a "Google Toolkit" prepared to mobilise support for the ongoing farmers' protest, which was later shared by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter. Police have alleged that the toolkit has "Khalistani links".

During the hearing, Additional Public Prosecutor Vikas Singh, pressing for five-day police custody, told the court that Ravi was shifting the blame on co-accused Shantanu Muluk and Nikita Jacob and hence needs to be confronted along with them. He further told the court that both of them have been served to join the investigation on February 22 and that they have already arrived in Delhi for the same.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police on Monday questioned lawyer Nikita Jacob, engineer Shantanu Muluk in the case, both of whom had agreed to join the investigation after being granted interim protection from arrest.

Both Jacob and Muluk were served notices to join the probe but the police had gone ahead to secure non-bailable warrants for their arrest, after which they had applied for bail.

Police sources said they were questioned regarding their involvement in the preparation of the alleged toolkit and their links with other people purportedly involved in creating the "controversial documents". Earlier, police claimed their initial examination of Nikita revealed that she and her associates, Shantanu and Disha, had created the Toolkit Google document together. The email account created by Shantanu was the owner of this document and all other members were its editors.

As per one official, the line of questioning will also focus on how they met and connected with other accused in the case.

With inputs from Abhay Singh

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