A political cartoonist charged with treason. Arrested on sedition charges. Facing legal attack under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, along with other offences under the Information Technology Act. Nationwide furor kindled. Heated debates across all news channels.
Some are calling him the “face of intolerant India”; some framing him of “having mocked the state and offended national sentiments” including my favorite Arnab Goswami, who was the subject of my last blog.
Well I’m not surprised at the arrest of this 25-year-old Kanpur-based social activist. To me, it’s the latest gag on free speech. I can observe an analogy between the arrest of Aseem and a Libyan cartoonist, who went all amiss after he penned his thoughts against Muammar Qaddafi. Has India kickstarted its mission of “illiberalalization”?
Does this government seek apology from anyone who dares speak up against it? First, they seek apology from the American daily newspaper, which fervently denied it. Then its latest victim, Aseem Trivedi.
The young cartoonist is being seen to be at fault. Why? The same blunder. His crusade against corruption, which is synonymous to our central government. The ‘silent minister’ is silent as always; however, his sycophants seem to exercise their lungs hard the moment someone utters against their misrule.
Inspired by Anna Hazare’s fight against corruption, this young cartoonist vented out his views through his cartoons being perceived as ‘questionable’ caricatures of Parliament and national symbols. It’s his way to pass a satire on India’s current political state. He has not battered the respect of these national symbols, but has depicted that our national honor has been chastened by the political goons. Today, every other esteemed guest has come out on the news channels and started deciding the limitations of this cartoonist.
The particular cartoon in which he has portrayed Indian Parliament as a toilet is being considered as the extreme insult to the Mother India.
It’s an irony that in a country where countless scams (The biggest scam ever, “coal scam” preceded by 2G spectrum scam, Commonwealth Games Scam, Oil Scam, MNREGA Scam, Adarsh Scam and in Cash For Vote Scam), numerous indefinite fasts could not bring down the barbarous government, some caricatures are being considered determinants of national honor.
I, in NO way, endorse humiliation to national honor; however, I just wish to highlight that we’re so much focusing on these issues when issues of much higher importance call for our government’s immediate attention.
Do these scams not demean the national integrity? Why is anyone feeling hurt that this young citizen has humiliated the national integrity and symbols? What about those political goons, who held each other’s collars right on the floor of the Indian Parliament and hurled abuses on each other? Why were they allowed to do this? Why were these politicians not arrested? Why were they not framed with charges of insulting the temple of democracy? Who can forget the infamous Delhi police crackdown at Ramlila ground on the night of June 4 last year? Was Indian democracy not disgraced that night when the innocent supporters of Baba Ramdev were made to face tear gas shells and lathicharge so that they could be evicted the place of protest in the wee hours of the morning?
Where was Ms. Ambika Soni then?
Today, Aseem Trivedi awaits trial for sedition. So do we. Let us wait and watch the fate of this social activist.