India: cartoonist Aseem Trivedi's arrest sees outcry


Indian students shout anti-corruption slogans in support of veteran Indian social activist, Anna Hazare at a garden in Amritsar on April 8, 2011. Indian social activist, Anna Hazare, who entered the fouth day of his indefinite hunger strike, has vowed to keep fasting to push for changes to a draft bill facilitating corruption complaints against the prime minister and cabinet. Hazare complained that the draft of the Lokpal (Ombudsman) Bill was formulated without the input of civil society groups and had been watered down by ministers.



The arrest of political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on charges of sedition has outraged rights activists in India, reported BBC News.

Trivedi was detained in Mumbai this weekend for a series of politically-charged cartoons, many of which were focused on government corruption, leading to a protest on his behalf today by a group of free speech activists and opposition activists in New Delhi, said AP

Some of the cartoons in question can be viewed on Trivedi's "Cartoons Against Corruption" website here, work the artist has defended as an honest response to societal ills.

"If telling the truth makes one a traitor, then I am happy," Trivedi said, according to India's NDTV. "Likewise even Gandhi, Bhagat Singh are traitors."

Mumbai police official Chandrakant Bhosale said the cartoonist was arrested because he showed "disrespect to the National emblem" with his "ugly and obscene content," reported NDTV

The organization India Against Corruption insisted that charges against group member Trivedi be dropped immediately, according to CNN's India affiliate, which also cited sources saying the cartoonist may refuse bail unless cleared of all wrongdoing. 

Reports indicate the government is already backtracking on the case, and it is unclear how long Trivedi will be held. 

Online observers, meanwhile, were quick to respond with Tweets critical of the government's response: 

Some of Trivedi's cartoons were featured at a New Delhi protest last year lead by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare, according to AP