The jailing of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi on charges of sedition, for his political cartoons on corruption, attracted countrywide outrage. Undoubtedly, the arrest of this young cartoonist is one of the most blatant attacks on freedom of expression and the right to dissent. Trivedi declared he would not seek bail, and went to jail declaring that if telling the truth was sedition, then so be it! Eventually he was released on bail. But the outrageous charges against him are yet to be withdrawn.
Trivedi, who has been making cartoons supporting the Anna-led anti-corruption stir, received a fair amount of public support. Dr. Binayak Sen, too, eventually drew public attention. There are countless others, however, jailed under Section 124 A (Sedition) and other draconian laws that criminalise dissent, but do not make it to the newspaper headlines.
8000 protestors at Koodankulam have been charged with sedition! These include 4 teenage boys, arrested after the recent stir at the shoreline. Their protest is equated with sedition because questioning the rationale for nuclear power is equated with seeking to overthrow the State. What a mockery of the ‘world’s largest democracy’!
The hypocrisy and double standards of the communal fascists is most glaringly exposed in their attitude to the sedition law.
BJP leader LK Advani, writing in his blog, lamented the arrest of Aseem Trivedi, asking, “Is today’s political set up worse even than the emergency?” He quoted the famous cartoonist Shankar: “Dictatorships cannot afford laughter because people may laugh at the dictator, and that would not do. In all the years of Hitler, there never was a good comedy, not a good cartoon, not a parody, not a spoof.” He recalled how the press dwindled in the Nazi era, and warned that the same might happen now in India.
Advani’s gall in piously lamenting fascism and the sedition law takes one’s breath away. Perhaps he hopes that people would have forgotten that it is a BJP Government in Chhattisgarh that continues to seek Binayak Sen’s conviction on sedition charges? That the same Chhattisgarh Government has locked up a young adivasi schoolteacher Soni Sori, having branded her a ‘Maoist’, and its police officers have subjected her to sexual torture and humiliating public strip searches? That the BJP has supported the crackdown on the Koodankulam protestors and leads the chorus that brands them as ‘anti-national’? That the Sangh Parivar hounded out the artist MF Husain for supposedly making ‘anti-national’ paintings? That the BJP Government of Gujarat presided over the massacre of Muslims in the way that the Nazi regime massacred Jews, and protected police officers who murdered innocents (mostly young Muslims) in cold blood and branded them ‘terrorists’ in death? And above all, that the founders of the RSS to which Advani belongs, openly drew inspiration from Hitler, the Nazis, and Mussolini, modelling their ideology, organisation, and uniform on those European fascists?
When Advani claims to oppose the Sedition law and Modi speaks up for ‘freedom of the internet’, it’s time for us to tell them that the struggle for democracy and the right to dissent does not need support from communal fascists!
Demand Repeal of Sedition Law and Other Draconian Laws!
Release All Those Imprisoned Under Draconian Laws!