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Cartoonist accepts court bail offer
Artist initially refused to leave jail
- Swati Deb, New Delhi
- September 12, 2012
Aseem Trivedi leftÂ jailÂ today with the charges still in place. He was arrested at the weekend for allegedly drawing seditious cartoons.
In the cartoons he depicted the national parliament as a giant toilet and replaced Indiaâ€™s three lions emblem with three wolves dripping blood from their mouths with the words â€ślong live corruptionâ€ť written underneath.
Yesterday, the Bombay High Court granted Trivedi bail of 5,000 rupees (US$90).Â However, Â he refused to leave the jail until the sedition charges against him were dropped. Earlier, he had refused the services of a lawyer.
His arrest has caused an outcry among civil rights activists, artists and media groups in India and overseas. They are accusing the state government of clamping down on freedom of expression.
The International Press Institute's Indian national committee called Trivediâ€™s arrest â€śoutrageous.â€ť
Committee chairperson N. Ravi said the basic aim of the cartoons was to mock the "pretentions" of politicians and bureaucrats vis-Ă -vis the corruption menace.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also slammed the cartoonistâ€™s arrest.
"Criminalizing Aseem Trivedi's efforts to highlight the serious problem of corruption is a perverse exercise of power and runs completely counter to India's democratic principles," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator.
Malini Parthasarthy, former executive editor of The Hindu newspaper, warned that the arrest betrayed the rise of authoritarian tendencies in the ruling Congress Party.
â€ś[Itâ€™s] better the Congress leadership wakes up before itâ€™s too late,â€ť she said.
Responding to the barrage of criticism, the Congress-led governments in both New Delhi and Maharashtra denied Trivediâ€™s arrest was politically motivated.
Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil told ucanews.com yesterday that the state police had nothing against Trivedi and that they acted according to provisions under the law.
â€śThe investigating agency and police have applied sedition charges. It has nothing to do with our government,â€ť he said.
Federal Law Minister Salman Khurshid also dismissed the criticism, saying that â€śthe law will take its own course" and claimed that the government or those in power had no control over Indian court procedures.