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“Friday for Future” Increases Students’ Interest in Climate Change

Launched by Swedish environmental activist Greta Th‌nberg in 2018, the ” Friday for Future” strike event every Friday raises student interest in climate change and urges the government to bring climate change to the forefront.

In 2020, Fridays for Future had carried out an email campaign against the draft EIA notification

Delhi Police took down Fridays for Future India’s website down in July 2020

Fridays For Future India has several chapters that actively participated in the global climate strike in September 2019

In July 2020, three little-known environment groups came into the limelight after Delhi Police took down their websites and threatened to slap UAPA charges against them. One of them was the India chapter of “Fridays for Future” (FFF), whose co-founder Disha Ravi is currently in police custody in the toolkit case and for alleged links to Khalistani sympathisers abroad.

FFF India was then carrying out an email campaign against the draft Environmental Impact Assessment notification formulated by the Prakash Javadekar-led environment ministry. The notification proposed reducing public consultation on projects and granting post-facto environmental clearance.

However, police described the contents of the FFF India website as “dangerous for the peace, tranquillity and sovereignty of India”. In the notice issued on July 8, 2020, Delhi Police had also said that the website contained “religious hatred content/material” and its contents attract the imposition of Section 18 (conspiracy or attempt to commit terror act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). Though Delhi Police soon withdrew the notice and the FFF website was up and running the next day, one thing was clear: the movement had come under the radar of agencies.

Started in 2018 by Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg, FFF encourages students to hold a strike every Friday to force the government to take notice of climate change. The India chapter was founded a year later and now has presence in several major cities with around 150 full-time volunteers. FFF India often coordinates with like-minded environment groups in other countries as well.

As part of the global climate strike in September 2019, FFF conducted several marches in India. But the biggest was in Disha’s hometown Bengaluru, where thousands of youths participated.

Though it initially started off as a climate group, volunteers soon started involving themselves in other issues as well, sometimes political. FFF took part in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens, and lately, the farmers’ agitation in the National Capital Region. But they are mostly engaged in raising climate awareness, cleaning lakes and parks, and conducting workshops on how to advocate and litigate pro-environmental issues.

Some of the major campaigns the organisation is involved in include protection of Mollem forest area in Goa, an elephant conservation zone in Uttarakhand, Aarey forest in Mumbai, Raika forest in Jammu and Dumna nature park in Madhya Pradesh. In October 2019, several FFF activists were among those arrested after clashes with police in Aarey Colony.

The activists were protesting felling of thousands of trees for the Metro project.

On their website (https://www.fridaysforfutureindia.com/), the FFF describes itself as a “global people’s movement for climate justice”. “We at FFF India are inclusive and egalitarian, non-partisan, autonomous and decentralised movement. Climate strikes or marches are peaceful, non-violent ways to let our national and state governments know of our demand to address the ongoing climate crisis and ecological breakdown,” FFF says.

However, Disha and her associates Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk now stand accused of creating and disseminating the farmers’ agitation toolkit – a campaign information document – with Greta, who accidentally tweeted it on February 4. Many pro-government voices believe the global outpouring of support for farmers is an international conspiracy to destabilise India.

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