India Can Never Have its Own Greta Thunberg. 9 & 13-Yr-Old Climate Activists “Detained” for Air Pollution Protest


India Can Never Have its Own Greta Thunberg. 9 & 13-Yr-Old Climate Activists “Detained” for Air Pollution Protest

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

Years after teenager Greta Thunberg became an international phenomenon for her impassioned pleas to save the planet from climate disaster, we finally have an answer as to what would have happened if she was born in India. One of our country’s youngest climate activists Licypriya Kangujam was briefly detained by the police along with a 12-year-old on Sunday after they were caught protesting against air pollution outside the Parliament House in Delhi.

According to the nine-year-old’s Twitter handle — which is managed by her guardians — the two children were detained for about 40 minutes before they were ferried away in a police van. The Delhi police also called in Central Industrial Security Force personnel to escort them, Kangujam said.

Aarav Seth, the 12-year-old boy, detained in the incident, said the police had first taken them to Parliament Street police station before dropping them off at Jantar Mantar.

Kangujam said the police let them off there with a warning and told her she would be arrested if she was caught protesting outside the Parliament House again.

Later, the young activist conceded on Twitter that she had made a mistake by protesting at such a high security zone. “But usually I protest every week there as a routine campaign to give awareness to the people on climate change.”

Kangujam also said the detention was illegal. How can a nine-year-old be arrested or detained, she asked on Twitter, to much support.

Another report, meanwhile, shows exactly what the young activists were protesting. The air quality in the national capital hit an eight-month low last week, the report said, establishing that only six per cent of the city’s PM 2.5 concentration could be accounted to stubble burning in neighbouring states.

It’s an alarming statistic and one that needs to be taken seriously for the sake of every Indian’s health. Instead, as we’ve seen, the administration seems to be more content with simply stifling voices fighting for a better future.