Aseem Trivedi, the satirical cartoonist whose works have drawn attention to corruption in India's public life, was jailed today on charges of sedition. The move has ignited controversy in the world's largest democracy.
Mr Trivedi is a leading member of the India Against Corruption movement. His cartoons have lampooned India's political elite. Examples of his work can be seen on his website Cartoons Against Corruption. Whilst they are satirical, irreverent and highly critical of the ruling elite, they would be almost certainly be seen as simply part of the cut and thrust of politics and public life in the West.
Trivedi's arrest at the weekend follows his publication of a particularly biting cartoon, which depicts the parliament building as a toilet, buzzing with flies. The authorities have characterised Trivedi's cartoons as mocking the constitution and insulting the flag, says BBC News.
According to the Guardian, Markandey Katju, the head of the Press Council of India and a former Supreme Court Judge, said:
Politicians must learn to be tolerant. This is not a dictatorship.
The former judge added:
A wrongful arrest is a serious crime under the Indian Penal Code, and it is those who arrested him who should be arrested.
The Hindustan Times records examples of the support for Mr Trivedi on the social networking site, Twitter. The widespread sense of bitter irony is aptly expressed in one tweet:
Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi arrested for sedition for "insulting the national emblem". Yes, yes. Screw the nation. Cherish the symbols.
Mr Trivedi, who declined to apply for bail, said of the charges:
If telling the truth makes me a traitor then I am one.