The incarceration of Aseem Trivedi, reputed political Cartoonist, who is a Kanpur based cartoonist was arrested on Sunday in Mumbai charging him with Section 66A Information Technology Act, Section 2 Prevention of insult to National Honour Act and(Section 124) which attracts life-imprisonment upon a petition lodged by a Navi Mumbai based youth, has invited fierce protests not only by citizens from all spheres of life including cartoonists, lawyers, political parties, intellectuals, media personnels, students, civil society activists, especially those belonging to India Against Corruption movement, to put it bluntly the entire Mumbai barring a few, demanding all charges against him be dropped forthwith and release him immediately. Aseem Trivedi is not only a reputed political cartoonist, but an eminent social activist, a crusader fighting the rot gripping the nation, whose political cartoons were displayed at the venue where Anna Hazaare and his accomplices went on a fast unto death in Mumbai, which attracted a lot of people. According to those who went thru his cartoons were of the opinion that Trivedi was actually mirroring the dirt prevailing in our society. Trivedi was arrested on Sunday by Mumbai police and remanded him for seven days. Upon completing the questioning his remand period was cut short and the Magistrate ordered his Judicial custody till September 24. He stuck to his stand of not seeking bail by depositing money and what he wanted was nothing short of repealing the archaic Section 124 of Constitution, a colonial legacy which found a place in Constitution.
Upon him being taken to the Magistrate Court located in Bandra and was on his way to Magistrate Court, he reiterated his respect towards Indian Constitution and its architect Bhimrao Ambedkar. He maintained that he would not detract from his stated position and would adhere to social activism and would continue to draw cartoons, writing in his blog and website through which he wanted to continue his crusade against the rampant corruption prevailing across India and would continue his profession fearlessly attacking the social and political evils which are eroding the ethics and values once followed by Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad andwho remained committed to the freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to move from one place to another and the right to settle down anywhere in the country, and if Nehru were alive today he would have acted then and there against the arrest and incarceration of Aseem Trivedi. Nehru was always fond of cartoonists and whenever he got an opportunity he never forgot to shower praises on cartoonists. Nehru’s life-long friendship with Cartoonist Shankar was famous who in his capacity as a Cartoonist of repute didn’t even spare Nehru and Nehru enjoyed the cartoon laughing at him and even encouraged Shankar to go on with his profession fearlessly.
India, where such a man of stature ruled for about 17 years, a political cartoonist like Aseem Trivedi getting arrested and incarcerated charging him with sedition and for drawing cartoons depicting national emblems and symbols were not to the taste of the authorities. Depicting Ajmal Kasab as a dog urinating on the Constitution of India and visualizing Parliament as a toilet to express his anger against a govt for not transacting any business for about a month, were all intended to draw the attention of the public. If and when a situation arrives by which a cartoonist has to seek the permission of the concerned political leader or for that matter any VVIP or VIP, then what is the meaning of freedom of expression without fear or favour?
Markandeya Katju, Chairman Press Council of India and retired Supreme Court Justice responded angrily against the arrest of Aseem Trivedi and condemned the action of police in strongest terms. He even went to the extent of pointing out that actually who should have been arrested and incarcerated was not Aseem Trivedi but the police personnel who arrested and incarcerated Trivedi. It is to be remembered that Justice Katju as an eminent Justice of Supreme Court once is well conversant with Indian constitution. His historic verdicts are still etched in the minds of Indian citizens.
Similarly Mahesh Jethmalani, a well-known lawyer and son of famous lawyer Ram Jeth Malani took strong exception to the step taken by the police by arresting and imprisoning a political cartoonist of the stature of Aseem Trivedi. Likewise several eminent persons came to fore and turned their wrath against the police for committing such a deplorable arrest.
Aseem Trivedi who was to fly to Washington to receive an award instituted by Association of American Editorial Cartoonists for his fearless attacks against the corruption and other evils spreading across India,this month has been allegedly denied visa.
An American political cartoonist Daryl Cagle who is working in ABC News who incidentally is on a visit to India upon hearing about the arrest of Aseem Trivedi, a social activist and political cartoonist was reportedly baffled and added that he recently drew a cartoon which displayed US President Barrack Obama using the White House as a toilet. US govt never even cared to take action against him as such kinds of cartoons are prevalent in US drawn by various cartoonists.
Today Mumbai Press Council has decided to convene a meeting to discuss the Trivedi issue as also to express strong protest against the police action and press for the repeal of the archaic law 124 (sedition) thus enabling Aseem Trivedi come out into the open.
As per the latest news reports it is learnt that the Maharashtra govt has decided to free him within 24hrs unable to withstand the strong protests by the entire Mumbai citizens. Even if he is released on bail, he won’t be coming out without the repeal of Section 124 of the Indian Constitution which is widely considered to be a draconian Act.