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Aseem Trivedi freed; Advani says current time worse than emergency

Agencies  New Delhi, September 12, 2012
First Published: 11:35 IST(12/9/2012) | Last Updated: 16:39 IST(12/9/2012)

Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi jailed on sedition charges was released from a Mumbai prison on bail on Wednesday, four days after being arrested in a case that has outraged freedom of expression campaigners.

"Although I'm free, the battle will continue. Whenever there is an infringement of legal rights, our fight will continue," Aseem Trivedi told a crowd of reporters outside Arthur Road jail.

Trivedi, whose sketches often mock the government for corruption, accepted bail after the city's High Court said on Tuesday that he could be released on a bond of Rs. 5,000.

His lawyer Vijay Hiremath said earlier on Wednesday that they were hopeful the charges would be dropped.

Trivedi was arrested last Saturday and sent to police custody for seven days.

He was charged with sedition for drawing cartoons insulting the Indian emblem, including the Constitution, during Anna Hazare' anti-corruption movement in Mumbai in December 2011.



Following nationwide outrage, the Mumbai police on Monday produced him before a court where he was granted judicial custody till Sep 24. The high court granted him bail on Tuesday.

Trivedi on Tuesday declined to be released until the sedition charge, slapped by Mumbai Police on him, was withdrawn.

Earlier on Wednesday, Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani came out in support of Aseem Trivedi, saying the act of jailing the cartoonist for an allegedly seditious work had made him wonder if the current political set up was "worse even than the emergency?"

Advani, in a blog post on Wednesday, said he has "always regarded the emergency period 1975-77 as the worst in so far as suppression of civil liberties and freedom of expression were concerned".

"But seeing what has happened to political cartoonist and anti-corruption crusader Aseem Trivedi, I have started wondering: Is today's political set up worse even than the emergency?"

Kanpur-based cartoonist Aseem Trivedi who was arrested on charges of posting seditious contents on his website is seen outside a Mumbai court. PTI



On Tuesday, the Bombay high court granted bail to Aseem Trivedi but he refused to be freed till the sedition charge against him were dropped.

Trivedi was arrested last Saturday by Mumbai police which charged him, among other things, with sedition for insulting national emblems and the constitution during the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare in Mumbai in December 2011.

India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday threatened to sit on a protest outside the prison where cartoonist Aseem Trivedi has been jailed if all charges against him are not dropped.

Advani said the "draconian mindset of the present rulers is born out of failure and desperation".

"…Dictatorships cannot afford laughter because people may laugh at the dictator, and that would not do.  In all the years of Hitler, there never was a good comedy, not a good cartoon, not a parody, not a spoof." he said.



Read more:

Debate, outrage over cartoonist's 'offensive' sketches
Bal Thackeray backs Trivedi, but raps him too

My son was only depicting truth: Aseem's father
Katju defends arrested cartoonist Aseem Trivedi
Charges of sedition absurd: Lawyers
Arrest of cartoonist 'over-stretched', 'uncalled' for: Cong
Cannot target national symbols in cartoons: Government
Sedition, my guys and the kitchen sink?


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