Happy to be described as a traitor

An anti-corruption cartoonist in India has been arrested for sedition.

Mr Trivedi was arrested on Saturday for a series of cartoons lampooning politicians. He refused to apply for bail at Monday’s hearing, and said if telling the truth made him a traitor then he was happy to be described as one.

Cartoons lampooning politicians – if there’s anything you’re supposed to be able to do without interference from the state, it’s lampooning politicians.

Government officials say that while they are in favour of free speech, there is a thin line between that and insulting national symbols, the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi reports.

No…That’s doing it wrong. Really. You don’t want to make it a crime to “insult national symbols.”

But Indians have condemned Mr Trivedi’s arrest, calling it a “wrongful act”. Protesters on social networking sites said it was shameful that corrupt politicians were being let off while those who highlighted corruption were being jailed.

“From the information I have gathered, the cartoonist did nothing illegal and, in fact, arresting him was an illegal act,” the chairman of the Press Council of India, Markandey Katju, told The Hindu newspaper.

The arrest of Mr Trivedi comes after other recent controversy over cartoons in India.

In April, police arrested a professor in the eastern city of Calcutta for allegedly posting cartoons ridiculing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the internet. He was later released.

A month later, a row over a cartoon showing Dalit icon BR Ambedkar in a school textbook disrupted the Indian parliament.

Cartoonists have been taking a lot of heat lately. India: do better.



  1. says

    A thing to note in the BBC article – the issue over the Ambedkar cartoon isn’t really an example of the state suppressing a cartoonist’s voice. But rather it is something else – it is the state listening to voices which usually don’t get much play in the mainstream discourse.

  2. says

    This is a sad development, more serious than people may realize. The government has already started censoring Facebook and Twitter posts (in the news a few weeks ago). Civil liberties and freedom of expression are in the danger of being severely curtailed, and people – beset with many other problems, and least expecting it – wouldn’t even notice until the sky falls on their heads. I wonder where it will stop.

  3. thebookofdave says

    A nation that shields the politically powerful from satire is no longer a democracy. India will have to call itself an oligarchy from now on, suppress an increasing tide of seditionist cartoonery, and put up with the international scorn.

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