‘Not for censorship,but self regulation’

Facing criticism regarding Aseem Trivedi’s arrest over his controversial cartoons,the government on Monday sought to allay the apprehensions of censorship saying that it believed in self-regulation but advised respect for national symbols

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:September 11, 2012 12:54 am

Facing criticism regarding Aseem Trivedi’s arrest over his controversial cartoons,the government on Monday sought to allay the apprehensions of censorship saying that it believed in self-regulation but advised respect for national symbols.

“The UPA government is not for censorship but for self regulation,and in the last three years as I&B Minister we have promoted self regulation at every step,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said on Monday. “There are certain ground rules which we all have to follow. When the Constitution ensures freedom of expression to each one of us,it also lays down that we as Indian citizens respect all national symbols which represent the Indian nation. We have to bring our right to expression,right to creativity and our respect for national symbols in a harmonious way,” she added. Soni’s remarks came in the backdrop of criticism from opposition parties on this issue.

While the BJP took a swipe against the ruling establishment,the Left demanded Trivedi’s immediate release.

“If an article is written in the Washington Post,then a letter is dashed off to it by this government. If a cartoonist,using his right to freedom of speech,expresses his views,he becomes a danger to national security,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said.

BJP veteran L K Advani,in his blog post on Monday,wondered whether the government wanted to “frighten the Indian media” by its attempt to “cow down” the author of the Washington Post article and “send a stern signal to Indian reporters in the process”. The CPM said it was “outrageous” that Trivedi has been charged with sedition and said that “there is an urgent need to review the sedition clause in the Indian Penal Code which is now being misused frequently”.

The CPI demanded “exemplary action” against those who “masterminded” his arrest. “His sin is that he sketched cartoons against corruption. Exposing corruption is sedition in the eyes of the law in our country. It is a shame,” the CPI central secretariat said in a statement.

The Congress also expressed reservations against the harsh action against Trivedi while advocating “reasonable restrictions” on freedom of speech and called for respecting the national emblems.

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