Mumbai: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi walked out of the Arthur Road jail here on Wednesday, three days after he was charged with sedition in a case that has sparked outrage in the country.
The Kanpur-based cartoonist, who received a hero's welcome by crowds waving India flags outside the jail, said the battle against sedition law and “oppressive behaviour” by government would continue.
"This fight, my fight, does not end here. We will continue to fight this battle till the sedition charges under Section 124A (of the Indian Penal Code) are dropped," Trivedi said soon after he came out of the prison.
"We will continue to fight this battle for freedom of expression," he said.
“Cash was taken in, porn and blue films are seen in Parliament, is that shaming institution or what I did?,” Trivedi asked.
Hundreds of India Against Corruption activists and scores others were present outside the jail to receive 25-year-old cartoonist.
The area around the jail saw heavy security in view of the sensitive situation. Notably, 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab is also lodged in the same prison.
Trivedi, an activist of India Against Corruption (IAC), had been given bail by Bombay High Court on Tuesday.
The High Court passed the order on a PIL filed by city-based lawyer Sanskar Marathe describing Trivedi's arrest as "illegal, bad in law, and unjustified".
Trivedi later thanked the media for supporting him in his fight. In a brief impromptu address to the press, Trivedi said he was grateful for all those people who supported him in his fight to have the sedition charges dropped.
Speaking to reporters at Mumbai Press Club later in the day, Trivedi questioned the very relevance of the sedition law in present-day democracy and demanded its immediate repeal.
"During the British rule, the rulers applied IPC 124 (A) to gag the voice of freedom fighters. It was applied against Mahatma Gandhi, Tilak and Veer Savarkar. It has been applied against writers, journalists, artists in the past few years and has been misused most of the time," he said.
Vowing to continue his fight for freedom of expression, Trivedi said, "My cartoons are like a mirror. They reflect the truth as it is. I never felt that I have committed a smallest mistake through my cartoons."
Describing section 124 (A) as one that reminds of "slavery", he said, "I respect law but not the one which is reminiscent of the foreign yoke."
"Politicians, writers and artistes are talking against this law and a debate has started. We all should vow to continue the fight. In today's world where social media is active, everybody is a writer. We should ensure no citizen has to face the accusation of being a traitor in future," Trivedi said.
Asked about his cartoon in which 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab was shown urinating on the Indian Constitution, Trivedi said he did not regret it.
The controversial cartoonist said 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."
"I was criticized for insulting the Constitution, Parliament and the country. They (Parliamentarians) ask questions after taking money, they are involved in scams worth crores, they are breaking the law. Tell me have I insulted the Parliament or have they insulted it ?" he asked.
Trivedi was arrested last Saturday on the basis of a complaint filed by a member of Republican Party of India, Amit Katarnayea.
He was charged with sedition for drawing cartoons insulting Indian emblems, including the Constitution, during Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement in Mumbai in December 2011. Notably, State Home Minister RR Patil has promised to get the sedition charge dropped.
The court will make a decision on removal of the sedition charge by September 17.
First Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 08:48