News / Asia

Indian Cartoonist’s Arrest Sparks Protests, Free Speech Debate

Indian policemen escort political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, center in black as they leave a court in Mumbai, India, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.Indian policemen escort political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, center in black as they leave a court in Mumbai, India, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.
x
Indian policemen escort political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, center in black as they leave a court in Mumbai, India, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.
Indian policemen escort political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, center in black as they leave a court in Mumbai, India, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
NEW DELHI, India — Outrage has been sparked in India by the arrest of a cartoonist who produced satirical drawings protesting political corruption.  Aseem Trivedi's arrest on charges of sedition is being seen as an attack on freedom of expression.

Anti-corruption activists, opposition politicians and citizens held protests in Mumbai demanding the release of 25-year-old Trivedi.

Trivedi was arrested Saturday on the complaint of a lawyer for a series of cartoons that satirized political corruption and allegedly mocked the Indian constitution.  

In one of his cartoons, he depicts parliament as a toilet bowl.  In another he replaces lions in India’s national emblem with wolves, and the words “truth shall prevail” with “corruption shall prevail.”  

Trivedi has been involved in an anti-corruption movement that has turned the spotlight on alleged widespread graft.  
   
Protestors slammed his arrest, calling it an attack on freedom of expression.  Among them is Mayank Gandhi, a leading anti corruption activist.   

“This sedition charge that they have put, should be put against anti-nationals," said Trivedi. "Here is a nationalist man who is trying to put his views across in a cartoon.  Mature democracy like India, we are not a banana republic, that just somebody drawing a cartoon, which shows his anger against the way this country is being misused by the politicians or by the government ...”

Trivedi has refused to apply for bail until the sedition charge is dropped.  Following his arrest he said, “if telling the truth makes me a traitor, then I am one.”  He told reporters that he did not intend to insult national symbols, but to show how politicians are insulting the nation.  

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni says drawing cartoons is not an offense, but self regulation is important.  

“At the same time there are certain ground rules which we all have to follow," said Soni. "When the constitution ensures freedom of expression to each one of us, it also lays down that we as Indian citizens will respect all national symbols.”

The arrest has revived debate on what some regard as rising intolerance among politicians and the government to criticism.  

Last month, the government blocked access to several Twitter spoof accounts imitating the prime minister.  Last year, the government wanted Internet companies such as Google to screen and remove material which was derogatory of politicians.  

The government has also responded angrily to several articles in the foreign media which have been critical of the prime minister and his handling of corruption.   

Earlier this year, police in West Bengal state arrested a professor for posting, on the Internet, cartoons that ridiculed the state’s chief minister.  He was released following an outcry.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Satish Chandra from: Toronto
September 10, 2012 11:36 AM
How about the cartoonist who was brutally tortured and beaten to death and his body dumped in a ditch outside Delhi? See "INDIA'S TRAITOR GOVERNMENT AND MEDIA" : IndiasTraitorGovtAndMediaDOTblogspotDOTcom .

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More