Indian Cartoonist Arrested for Violating Sedition Law

Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi has been arrested for drawing cartoons. Seriously.

The case hinges on a complaint about cartoons published during anti-corruption protests last year.

Trivedi’s cartoons attacked perceived corruption in India’s political system, with one of them depicting three lions in India’s national emblem as wolves and another showing parliament as a toilet, Hiremath said.

He was also charged with insulting national honor and authorities have blocked Trivedi’s website, which carried the cartoons, [Trivedi’s attorney Vijay] Hiremath added.

If convicted, he could be jailed for life.

A representative of the Indian government offered this helpful nugget of wisdom:

India’s information and broadcasting minister, Ambika Soni, said the government did not believe in censorship and called on the media to practice “self regulation.”

“I don’t think making cartoons is wrong…But they (cartoonists) should not make national symbols as their subject,” the minister said.

See, Trivedi wouldn’t have been arrested if only he’d practiced self-regulation. Really, when you think about it, all artists should practice self-regulation. It makes things a lot easier for everyone. It’s his fault. He insulted the national honor, by drawing cartoons.

A Wall Street Journal blog post has more:

“This is absolutely unacceptable and undemocratic,” said [Mumbai Crime Branch advocate R.P.] Pandey, adding that, in his view, some of the images violate “several sections” of the Indian Penal Code, including The State Emblem of India (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act, 2005.

According to the act, the national emblem cannot be used for “any trade, business, calling or profession or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design” unless authorized by the national government. Under the act, offense carry a penalty of up to two years or a 5,000 rupee fine.

Here are two of the cartoons in question, by the way:

Two years in prison. For drawing cartoons.

I got those images from Daryl Cagle’s Cagle Post, which notes that Trivedi was named by the Cartoonists Rights Network International as one of its two Courage in Editorial Cartooning award winners. Here is part of that write-up:

Aseem Trivedi, a young cartoonist from India, like Ali Ferzat, made two courageous decisions.  First, in an atmosphere of increasing censorship and repression in the world’s largest democracy, Aseem launched the Cartoons Against Corruption website.  In an effort to mobilize his fellow citizens against India’s pervasive political corruption, Aseem filled this site with his anti-corruption cartoons.  After being charged with treason and insulting national symbols, Aseem made his second courageous act.  Despite the charges and threats of additional charges, he has taken a leadership role in India’s emerging free speech movement.  Joining forces with other free speech activists, Aseem has launched an online freedom of expression campaign called Save Your Voice: A Movement Against Web Censorship.

In an interview with CRNI given earlier this year, Trivedi gave an in-depth explanation of the symbols he employed in the cartoons posted above, which you can read here.


Original source: CNN