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Aseem Trivedi Arrest: Justified or Suppression?

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TNI Bureau: Political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s arrest sparked the nationwide outrage and severe criticism from several groups even Press Council of India. The protesters in support of the cartoonist raised question, is making cartoon on the government crime?

Trivedi was arrested on charges of insulting national emblem and other national symbols. He is also accused of posting seditious content on his web site. After the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) police produced him before a court on Sunday, he was remanded in police custody for a week till September 16. He was booked under Section 124 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for sedition and for various other offences under Information Technology Act and Prevention of Insults to National Symbols Act, 1971.

However, the police decided to give up Trivedi’s custody following public agitation and outrage. Many questioned police action against the cartoonist.

Press Council Chairman Jsutice Markandey Katju called the police action criminal. He said, “Politicians must learn to be tolerant. It’s not dictatorship. Cartoons criticising politicians are often published. It’s a criminal offence to wrongfully arrest the cartoonist. The policemen who’ve done that must be arrested instead”. He termed the arrest as ‘non-sense, stupid’ and said that the policemen who arrested him must be put behind bars for violation of fundamental rights.

Even Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil said there were no grounds for the police to take Trivedi into custody. He said that he is looking into the matter.

On the other hand, Trivedi’s supporters including India Against Corruption (IAC) have been demanding his release from police custody. His parents Pratibha and Ashok Trivedi  feel proud. They claimed that he is being targeted for being an India Against Corruption activist. They questioned, “Why should the government arrest our son, a cartoonist when there are so many corrupt leaders roaming around freely? His cartoon was only helping draw attention to corruption,”. His mother said that he has not done anything wrong and his act cannot be called unpatriotic. Even the accused denied to have a lawyer in his favour and did not seek bail. His parents want to see how the court is doing justice. They asked, if making cartoon on the government and criticizing the politicians is a crime before law, he should allow the court to judge.

As per the charges against him, his cartoons have depicted Parliament as a commode and showed the national emblem with four wolves instead of lions. In another cartoon, he has Parliament House as a “toilet”.  In yet another cartoon, he has reportedly drawn “Mother India” as a woman who is about to be raped.

It was also alleged that Trivedi had put up banners mocking the Indian constitution during social activist Anna Hazare’s rally held at the MMRDA grounds.

But many people also feel that though the current political situation is best depicted in the cartoons, still for making caricatures of the three paramount source of national symbol should not be excused and he should be awarded the appropriate retribution.

Mocking the parliament, constitution or emblem is misbehaving the whole country including the political biggies, who have been found, involved in scams.

However, the good side of these cartoons cannot be ignored. The government should try to understand the frustration of the cartoonist who finally decided to make cartoons of even the highest and most esteemed elements of a democracy.

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