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Cartoonist held for seditious posters sent to jail

Last updated on: September 10, 2012 20:22 IST

Cartoonist held for seditious posters sent to jail

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Charged with sedition, Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was on Monday sent to jail for two weeks by a Mumbai court after police said it did not require his custody anymore two days after his arrest that has sparked an outrage.

Twivedi, 25, himself did not apply for bail in the case until the sedition charge, for which maximum punishment is life imprisonment, was dropped, even as the Maharashtra government sought to distance itself from the case.

He was arrested in Mumbai on Saturday under IPC Section 124 (sedition), section 66 A of Information Technology Act and section 2 of Prevention of Insults to Nation Honour Act. He was on Sunday remanded in police custody till September 16.

Producing Trivedi before a Bandra court, police said their investigations in the case were over and his custodial interrogation was not needed. The court remanded Trivedi in judicial custody till September 24.

The Kanpur-based artist has been accused of putting up banners mocking the Constitution during a rally of anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare in Mumbai late last year and posting the same on his website.

Trivedi was arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by a member of Republican Party of India, Amit Katarnayea.

"I am not seeking bail because I am proud of whatever I did, and this I will do it repeatedly. I am not a criminal that I should deposit money and seek bail, but till the time the charges of sedition are not dropped against me, I will continue to be in jail," said a statement in Hindi purported to be written by Trivedi in jail.

The statement was circulated outside the Court by volunteers of India Against Corruption (IAC), which organized Hazare's rally last year. Scores of Trivedi's supporters had gathered at the court premises.

Clad in black kurta and jeans, Trivedi was brought to the court in the afternoon.

As the arrest sparked condemnation by some political parties and activists, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said though the Constitution ensures freedom of expression it also lays down that every citizen must respect the national symbols.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) said it was "outrageous" that a sedition charge had been slapped with for drawing cartoons against corruption while the Congress said the arrest of Trivedi was a bit of an overstretch.

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Clad in black kurta and jeans, Trivedi was brought to the court in the afternoon. The Magistrate asked him whether he had any complain against police, to which he replied in the negative. After the proceedings, Trivedi, sporting a beard, was whisked away by the police. He did not seek bail.

Outside the Court, around 200 volunteers of India Against Corruption (which organised Hazare's rally last year) had gathered to support Trivedi. One of them distributed copies of a statement purported to be written by Trivedi in jail.

The statement read, "If telling the truth is against the country, then I am a traitor....If raising voice against injustice is against the country then I am a traitor. If the definitions of 'patriot' and 'traitor' have changed in the course of time, then I am a traitor".

"I oppose disrespect shown to the Constitution. I believe in the Constitution as well as Dr B R Ambedkar. Seeing disrespect to the Constitution pains me and I am trying to stop this through my cartoons," the statement in Hindi said.

"I am following the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi and serving the nation...Do not get bothered seeing me inside the jail. Remember, Anna Hazare has said that one should go to jail for the sake of nation.

According to the statement, Trivedi said he was not seeking bail because he was proud of whatever he did and he will do it repeatedly.

"I am not a criminal that I should deposit money and seek bail, but till the time the charges of sedition are not dropped against me, I will continue to be in jail", the statement added.

Trivedi had come to Mumbai on September 8 and went straight to Bandra-Kurla Police station where the complaint was registered against him. He was immediately arrested and produced before the court the next day.

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Earlier, a team of Mumbai Police had gone to Kanpur to look for Trivedi. Not finding him, they had met his father.

After Trivedi learnt that a complaint had been filed against him in Mumbai, he surrendered to police.

Trivedi had told the Court yesterday he would not engage a lawyer and also did not say anything in his defence.

The prosecution's charge against Trivedi is that he had put up objectionable posters on his website which allegedly insulted the Constitution. Also, he had allegedly insulted the National Anthem in one of his cartoons displayed at Hazare's rally and uploaded it on his website.

Meanwhile, the Press Club, Mumbai, in a statement, condemned the arrest of Trivedi on charge of sedition which it termed as "a draconian and outdated piece of law".

Seeking Trivedi's immediate release, the statement said he was a well-known activist against corruption and was only portraying the rot in the system through his cartoon images. His blog posts meant no harm to either the nation's emblems or to the Constitution.

Section 124 IPC which has been invoked against Trivedi, says "whoever, by words, spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the government, shall be imprisoned for life".

Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to Nation Honour Act, says, "whoever in any public place burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written or by acts) the National Flag or the Constitution of India or any part thereof, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years".

Meanwhile, a report from Beed, Central Maharashtra, said two separate complaints have been registered against Trivedi for "insulting" Parliament and Constitution through his cartoons.

The first case was filed on January 7, 2012, in Beed court by Hanumant Upre, President of OBC Styashodhak Parishad.

The second one was registered on May 23.




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