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Catholic Union: Hounding of young climate change activists is 'deeply worrying'

Disha Ravi
By Our Representative 
The All-India Catholic Union (AICU) has said that it is deeply disturbed and worried at hounding of young activists, insisting, “civil society is vital for healthy nation.” The 101-year-old organisation, in a statement, said it is particularly worried “at the hounding of young climate change and environment activists in the country.”
It said, “What makes it more critical is that this form of persecution comes from both state and non-state actors, and at a time when the nation is struggling to come out of the medical and economic catastrophe of Covid, natural calamities in the Himalayan region, and the crisis in agriculture as reflected in the strike by the country’s farmers.”
“The AICU considers itself a part of civil society in the country and believes that a vibrant civil society is vital to the overall health of the nation, its plural heritage and its constitutional guarantees”, the statement adding, “As a representative body of ordinary Catholic communities across the country, AICU understands the importance of civil society in defending and projecting freedom of faith, expression and fraternity.”
“Any action by governments and others, that erodes any of these freedoms seriously impacts every group, especially religious minorities”, AICU national president Lancy D Cunha said. “Whether in religious communities or national movements on education, health, environment protection and grassroots level economic rejuvenation, the burden lay on the shoulders of the young”, added AICU national spokesman Dr John Dayal. 
“Their drive, patriotism and concern for the future was unparalleled. Their knowledge of mass media, social media and advocacy had made them engines of change internationally. In India, irrespective of ideologies, the young were in the lead, giving courage to the rest”, he insisted.
The statement, he said, is made in the context of the Delhi police arresting 22-year-old Disha Ravi on on February 14, 2021 alleging her involvement in a Google document that the young international climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted in support of farmer protests in India. The police are also seeking arrest of Shantanu Muluk from Beed, Maharashtra, and lawyer Nikita Jacob from Mumbai.
Jacob is a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion India, a branch of a global climate advocacy youth group founded in the UK in 2018. The Bombay High Court has granted Muluk 10-day transit bail, while Jacob has been granted protection from arrest for the next three weeks.

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