Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) has learned that an arrest warrant has been issued for Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi. He is at this moment participating in a late-night demonstration in New Delhi protesting the warrant put out for his arrest. Trivedi is this year’s winner of the prestigious CRNI Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning to be given at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Washington, DC on September 15th. It is not known what exactly the terms of the warrant are. However, what is known is that Trivedi has been unfairly accused by enemies of his anticorruption campaign of demeaning the government of India through his cartoons. Trivedi is also a primary organizer of Save Your Voice, a free speech campaign lobbying all levels of Indian government to stop unwarranted censorship of Internet sites.
Trivedi, and many others, have been deeply involved in an anticorruption movement in India over the last year. Recently, the leader of that movement, Anna Hazare, in a controversial and sudden move, declared that he was forming a political party. This act separated Hazare from many elements of the nongovernmental anticorruption movement that he founded and led. Trivedi is one of the heir apparents of the movement.
Cartoonists Rights Network International deplores this move on the part of the Indian government to arrest Mr. Trivedi. Aseem should be recognized as a hero in India for his selfless efforts and the risks he has taken to expose government corruption and the Indian government’s lack of transparency. Aseem Trivedi is at special risk as it is common for some of India’s political parties to unleash “goon squads” of armed thugs as political enforcers who beat and sometimes even kill individuals who are perceived as threats to the status quo. We call on the Indian government to protect Mr. Trivedi and others in his movement who are clearly in danger of this kind of retribution.
When reached for comment CRNI Executive Director Robert Russell said, “That a government moves to arrest an anticorruption free speech advocate on what are sure to be revealed as flimsy grounds speaks volumes for the inability or unwillingness of the Indian government to evenhandedly administer its own Constitution.”
You can learn more about Aseem Trivedi from our two previous news alerts titled In India the Enemies of Free Speech Find a “Symbolic” Means to Attack Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, and,CRNI Announces Winners of the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award – Ali Ferzat and Aseem Trivedi.
LATEST UPDATE- SEP 2, 2012
As Aseem lives in Delhi, he reached his home town on the next day (31 Aug). A big crowd (about 400 friends) was present at the time when Aseem reached his home. Aseem with his 200 supporters reached to local police station (Gangaghat Police Station) . They said that ‘raising our voice in not a crime and if it is, everyone who is present at the police station is a criminal and we should be arrested’. Crowd was also angry because the Mumbai police team disappeared at the time of protest. They demanded an apology from Mumbai police and asked them to register a case against those police personal who harassed Aseem’s father. The inspector could not locate/contact the police team which was said to be a team from Mumbai Police.
Now Aseem is in his home with family. His family is feeling humiliated. I have forwarded this message to ACP of Mumbai Police, Mr. Vishwas Nagre Patil, but he has not responded to my message till the time this email has been written. You can also talk to him on his mobile no +91-9773005555. I would recommend you to take his version on the issue.