As protests against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi's arrest on charges of sedition gathered steam, in an unprecedented move, the Bandra-Kurla Complex police on Monday handed over his custody to a metropolitan magistrate court, amid high drama outside.
While social networking sites were abuzz with criticism and India Against Corruption (IAC) activists protested outside the police station and court premises, eminent personalities and lawyers also made statements to the media, saying his arrest was absurd and a curb on freedom of expression.
A special page was created on Facebook to protest the cartoonist's arrest, where users were coming down heavily on the government and the police authorities.
"Aseem's arrest is an attack on the freedom of expression. We are here to extend our support to him and will fight till justice is availed," said IAC member Mayank Jain.
Two hours after the protest began, IAC member Mayank Gandhi informed the crowd gathered outside Bandra-Kurla police station that Trivedi would be produced in court as the police had finished interrogating him.
A roar of cheer greeted the announcement and supporters started marching towards Bandra station to get to the court.
Trivedi was brought into court amid hordes of IAC supporters chanting 'Inqalab Zindabad' and 'Bharat mata ki jay', while some started singing songs specially written for him.
Trivedi was remanded in police custody on Sunday, but within 24 hours, the police said they did not need his custody anymore. Namdeo Chavan, deputy commissioner of police (zone 8), said: "We are done with our questioning."
Trivedi, dressed in a black kurta and jeans, said he had no complaints against the police when asked by the court.
Later, Trivedi gave his friend a handwritten letter, to be shared with the media, in which he said he did not regret his actions and did not want to apply for bail.
His advocate Vijay Hiremath said: "We don't want to apply for bail until the charge of sedition is removed from the case."
Gandhi said: "We salute Trivedi's decision and his patriotic spirit. We will stand by him, whether he continues with his struggle in jail against the archaic law of sedition or decides to opt for bail."
City police commissioner Satyapal Singh said: "I will not like to comment on dropping sedition charges, but I want to say that an artiste should stay within the limits of law."