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Drop sedition charges against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, or we will agitate, warns Arvind Kejriwal
 
Updated on : 11-09-2012 | By Frontier

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who is in jail in Mumbai, met this morning with activist Arvind Kejriwal and other members of the India Against Corruption movement. Mr Kejriwal warned that if charges of sedition are not dropped against Mr Trivedi, activists will begin a demonstration outside the Arthur Road jail starting Saturday.

"MPs who disrespect the national emblem... official papers have national emblems printed on them ... they commit corruption and should be booked for sedition," said Mr Kejriwal, who is also the right-hand aide of Gandhian activist Anna Hazare. 

The arrest of the 25-year-old cartoonist has provoked strong criticism. Mr Trivedi says he is entitled to lampoon corruption and a corrupt government and has refused to apply for bail; he says he will not leave jail till the charges of sedition against him are dropped and the law itself is ammended. This was emphasised in a letter, reportedly written by Mr Trivedi, read out by India Against Corruption (IAC) members yesterday outside the Arthur Road jail.

A local court has sent him to Arthur Road Jail for 14 days. Mr Trivedi's supporters allege that he is being targeted by the government for supporting the anti-corruption movement championed by Anna and Mr Kejriwal.

Mr Trivedi has gone from little known to trending in a matter of days.  His arrest is based  on the complaint of a Mumbai lawyer who took umbrage at Mr Trivedi's anti-corruption cartoons, especially one that re-interpreted the Ashok Chakra national emblem - wolves replaced the three lions to show ravenous corruption. He has said, "If telling the truth makes me a traitor then I am one." 

The Mumbai police tried to reverse out of the controversy on Monday, telling a local court that they were done with questioning him and were surrendering custody. Mr Trivedi  has been charged with allegedly uploading "ugly and obscene" matter on his web portal and putting up objectionable banners insulting the Indian Constitution during an Anna Hazare protest in Mumbai last year.

The government, on the back foot, has said people cannot be allowed to "cross the line." Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni said, "We are not against democratic rights, we are all for free speech... people have made cartoons of Nehru, Indira  earlier. But there is a thin line you draw between free speech and what can be termed as offensive especially against national symbols."

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