Arvind Kejriwal: Free cartoonist Aseem Trivedi

Anti-corruption campaigner Arvind Kejriwal Monday sought the release of jailed Mumbai cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and slammed the government for suppressing protests over Omkareshwar Dam and Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

The India Against Corruption (IAC) member and his colleagues Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, in a joint press conference at Ghaziabad, demanded that Trivedi should be released unconditionally and all the charges against him, including the baseless sedition charge, must be dropped.

Trivedi was arrested in Mumbai Saturday and sent to judicial custody till Sep 24 Monday for allegedly uploading “ugly and obscene” matter on his web portal and putting up objectionable banners insulting the constitution during Anna Hazare’s protest last year.

The anti-corruption group said that it stood for freedom of expression and was anguished by the growing culture of intolerance for creative expression in the public domain.

“Trivedi is a young talented and fearless cartoonist. Like many artists of his generation, he was happy to add his voice to public outcry against corruption. Some of his cartoons have been used by IAC,” said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal and his colleagues also criticised the central government for suppressing the peaceful protests against the raising of water level in Madhya Pradesh’s Omkareshwar Dam.

The government should agree with the farmers’ demand to stop the increasing level of water, he said.

IAC also expressed concern over the crackdown against villagers opposing Tamil Nadu’s Kudankulam nuclear power plant. The villagers are fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan in March 2011.

Kejriwal said IAC strongly condemned the use of force against peaceful protesters and called upon the authorities to desist from taking any step for making the nuclear plant operational before implementing the safety measures recommended by an expert committee.

In a statement issued in New Delhi over the cartoonist’s arrest, the IAC earlier said: “…the use of sedition law against Aseem Trivedi is blatantly illegal and portrays sign of a paranoid state that does not behove a mature democracy like India… his harassment smacks of vendetta against anti-corruption movement.”

“There can be two views about the content of some other cartoons put up by him on his website, or indeed about their appropriateness but these are matters to be judged by the public, and not by the police,” the IAC said. (IANS)

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