G Bala, a freelance cartoonist based in Tirunelveli, has been arrested by Crime Branch wing for a cartoon he posted on social media criticising the district administration and Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami.
One of the most popular cartoonists in the state with over 65,000 followers on Facebook, Bala’s political cartoons discussing various issues have had a key role in social media debates in Tamil Nadu.
The cartoon that led to his arrest on Sunday morning criticised Tirunelveli police commissioner, district collector, and the Chief Minister, holding them responsible for the death of an entire family, who self-immolated before the Tirunelveli collectorate two weeks ago.
As the family had killed themselves in broad daylight allegedly after they were threatened by private money lenders and the district collector and police failed to take action on family’s six petitions in the last two months, Bala’s cartoon taking on authorities went viral, shared by thousands of people in social media.
The cartoon shows a burning child lying on the ground, evidently immolating, while the Tirunelveli police commissioner, the collector and the Chief Minister gathered around the child, with their eyes downcast, covering their nudity with cash bundles.
According to a top government official, Bala had posted the cartoon on October 24 night. “Over 38,000 people shared the cartoon. Taking notice of the cartoon, the district collector reported the matter to the Chief Secretary and DGP has ordered the arrest,” the officer said.
Police said he was arrested under Section 67 in the Information Technology Act (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) and Section 501 of the Indian Penal Code (Printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory).
Five days back, S Thirumurugan, a 19-year-old engineering diploma holder, was arrested from Srivilliputhur town near Virudhinagar based on a BJP district secretary for his alleged abusive remarks on Modi in a private chat in the Facebook messenger.