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Cartoonist Trivedi out of jail, vows to fight sedition law

Last updated on: September 12, 2012 20:55 IST

Cartoonist Trivedi out of jail, vows to fight sedition law

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Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, facing the charge of sedition among others, on Wednesday walked out of jail a day after the Bombay high court ordered his release on bail and vowed to intensify his campaign for scrapping of the sedition law.

The Kanpur-based cartoonist, arrested for posting alleged seditious content on his website and insulting the national emblem and the Parliament, was on Monday remanded in judicial custody till September 24, after the police said it no longer required his custody and Trivedi refused to seek bail till the charge of sedition was dropped.

However, the high court had on Tuesday ordered him to be enlarged on bail, saying, "He can be released on a personal bond. If drawing those cartoons is the only charge, then his custody is not required."

The HC passed the order on a public interest litigation filed by Mumbai-based lawyer Sanskar Marathe describing Trivedi's arrest as "illegal, bad in law, and unjustified".

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Image: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi interacts with the media at Mumbai Press Club
Photographs: Video: Afsar Dayatar/Rediff.com

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'My cartoons are like a mirror, they reflect truth'

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Later, speaking to reporters at Mumbai Press Club along with rights activist Binayak Sen, Trivedi questioned the relevance of the sedition law in present-day democracy and demanded its immediate repeal.

"During the British rule, the rulers applied IPC 124 (A) to gag the voice of freedom fighters. It was applied against Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak and Veer Savarkar. It has been applied against writers, journalists, artists in the past few years and has been misused most of the time," he said.

Vowing to continue his fight for freedom of expression, Trivedi said, "My cartoons are like a mirror. They reflect the truth as it is. I never felt that I have committed a smallest mistake through my cartoons."

Describing section 124 (A) as one that reminds of "slavery", he said, "I respect law but not the one which is reminiscent of the foreign yoke."

However, Sen, who had also been charged with sedition for his alleged links with Naxalites, when asked if he subscribed to the manner in which Trivedi conveyed his message through the cartoons, said he was sharing the platform with him only to voice his opposition to the law governing sedition.


Image: Trivedi walks out of Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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'Law relating to sedition is illegal'

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"Politicians, writers and artistes are talking against this law and a debate has started. We all should vow to continue the fight. In today's world where social media is active, everybody is a writer. We should ensure no citizen has to face the accusation of being a traitor in future," Trivedi said.

Asked about his cartoon in which 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was shown urinating on the Indian Constitution, Trivedi said he did not regret it.

The controversial cartoonist said he would defend himself in the court against all other charges but not the one accusing him of sedition.

"I love my country and I do not accept the sedition charge. I respect the law but not the law relating to sedition which itself is illegal. It is against truth and justice."

"I was criticised for insulting the Constitution, the Parliament and the country. They (Parliamentarians) ask questions after taking money, they are involved in scams worth crores, they are breaking the law. Tell me have I insulted the Parliament or have they insulted it," he asked.



Image: Trivedi waves to supporters outside Arthur Road Jail
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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'Sedition law is misused to suppress dissent'

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Echoing the young cartoonist's views on sedition, Sen said, "Sedition law is a law which is misused to suppress dissent".

"We are planning a signature campaign against the law. We will be taking one million signatures and sending them to the Parliament. Application of this law against anybody is never justified," he said.

Trivedi was arrested on September 8 on the basis of a complaint filed in December by a member of Republican Party of India Amit Katarnayea, who had alleged that the latter had put up banners mocking the Indian Constitution during Anna Hazare's rally held last year at the Bandra Kurla Complex. It was also alleged that he had put obscene content on his website.


Image: Trivedi with Binayak Sen at the Mumbai Press Club
Photographs: Sahil Salvi

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