Freelance cartoonist Aseem Trivedi,who was arrested by the Mumbai Police on sedition and other charges for his controversial cartoons,was sent to jail on Monday after a local court remanded him to judicial custody for two weeks.
The order by the Bandra court came after the police,faced with widespread outrage,said it did not need further custody of Trivedi,25. As voices of protest against his arrest grew,Maharashtras Congress-NCP government too seemed to be distancing itself from the police action.
Trivedi was arrested on Saturday in a December 2011 case against him for his cartoons parodying national symbols. The case was registered at the Bandra-Kurla Complex police station following a complaint by a Navi Mumbai-based law student and Central Railway employee,Amit Katanavare.
A holiday court had on Sunday remanded him to police custody until September 16. On Monday,Additional Public Prosecutor B B Yele told the court that the police had completed their investigation and Trivedis custody was not essential.
Trivedi was accused of putting up seditious banners mocking the constitution during Anna Hazares campaign in Mumbai last year and posting the same on his website.
He was arrested under IPC Section 124 (sedition),Section 66 A of Information Technology Act and Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to Nation Honour Act.
Trivedis lawyer Vijay Hiremath said that Trivedi had decided to apply for bail only if the police dropped the sedition charge. I have not received any direction from him. He wants the police to first drop sedition charge against him, Hiremath said.
India Against Corruption activists,with whom Trivedi has been closely associated,had gathered outside the court in large numbers and shouted slogans in his support.
In his statement,distributed by IAC volunteers,Trivedi said: 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 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… I am following the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi… Do not get bothered seeing me inside jail. Remember,Anna Hazare has said that one should go to jail for the sake of nation, the statement added.
Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil said in Nashik that his government had nothing to with the complaint filed against Trivedi and that they were trying to seek his release.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said in New Delhi that they were not in favour of the arrest. While seeking respect for national symbols,Tewari said: I have no hesitation in saying that the arrest is a bit too stretched… over-reaction is certainly not called for. The police could have admitted the complaint but left the matter for the courts to decide,he added.
At a press conference in Delhi,IAC member Arvind Kejriwal said while the content of Trivedis cartoons allegedly denigrating national symbols could be debated upon,he could not be called a traitor.
However,Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said certain ground rules for respect of national symbols have to be followed by all. We have to balance our right to expression,right to creativity and our respect for national symbols in a harmonious way, she said. Soni added that the UPA government was not for censorship but self-regulation.
WITH ENS DELHI & PTI