Mumbai : Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, facing the charge of sedition, on Wednesday walked out of Arthur Road Jail, a day after the Bombay High Court ordered his release on bail. Trivedi had earlier refused to seek bail till the charge of sedition was dropped.
Immediately after his release, he vowed to intensify his campaign for scrapping of the sedition law. “This fight does not end here. We will continue to fight till the sedition charges under Section 124A (of the Indian Penal Code) are dropped,” Trivedi said.
“We will continue to fight this battle for freedom of expression,” he added. Around 50 people, including India Against Corruption activist Mayank Gandhi, were present outside the prison to receive the 25-year-old cartoonist.
In a brief impromptu address to the press, the Kanpur-based activist said: “My cartoons are like a mirror. They reflect the truth. I never felt that I have committed the smallest mistake through my cartoons.”
Commenting on section 124 (A), which deals with sedition, he said, “I respect the law but not one that is reminiscent of the foreign yoke.”
Later, speaking to reporters at the Mumbai Press Club along with rights activist Binayak Sen, Trivedi questioned the relevance of the sedition law in present-day democracy and demanded its immediate repeal.
“During British rule, the rulers invoked IPC 124 (A) to gag the voice of freedom fighters. It was invoked against Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak and Veer Savarkar. It has been applied against writers, journalists and artists in the past few years and has been misused most of the time,” he said.
However, Binayak Sen, who had also been charged with sedition for his alleged links with Naxalites, refused to comment on the cartoons, stating that he was sharing the platform only to voice his opposition to the law governing sedition. Asked specifically about his cartoon, in which 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was shown urinating on the Constitution, Trivedi said he did not regret it. He added that he would defend himself in the court against all other charges but not the one accusing him of sedition.
“I love my country and I do not accept the sedition charge. I respect the law but not the law relating to sedition which itself is illegal. It is against truth and justice.”
Echoing the young cartoonist’s views, Sen said, “The sedition law is misused to suppress dissent”. “We are planning a signature campaign against the law. We will be taking one million signatures and sending them to Parliament. Application of this law against anybody is never justified,” he said.
Several politicians, including Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, have joined the chorus against Trivedi’s arrest on charge of sedition. ‘’Trivedi did insult the symbols but that does not justify branding him a traitor and imprisoning him,” he said, adding, “The sedition law was framed by the British. Britain has scrapped the law but it is still there in ours.”
The court will resume hearing on September 17 to decide whether it was right to invoke the sedition charge against Trivedi for his cartoons.