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If speaking the truth is sedition then I am guilty of sedition: Aseem Trivedi writes from jail

September 11, 2012

Aseem Trivedi: self-portrait

This is the text of a statement issued by ASEEM TRIVEDI from inside a jail in Mumbai. Trivedi has been remanded to judicial custody till 24 September for displaying and publishing cartoons that are allegedly seditious, insult national honour and, under the IT Act, are “grossly offensive” and of “menacing character”. An English translation of his letter is followed by the Hindi original.

Friends,

I am a true citizen of this country, not someone who has committed sedition.

If speaking the truth is sedition, then I am indeed guilty of sedition. If raising one’s voice against injustice is sedition, then I am guilty of sedition. If patriotism and the definition of patriotism have changed, then you could say I am guilty of sedition. If Gandhi, Bhagat Singh and Azad were guilty of sedition, so am I.

Even a small child of this country can understand my motive. I oppose the insulting of the people and the Constitution of India. I have been opposing the insulting of the people and the Constitution of India through my cartoons.

Art and literature are a mirror to society. I have only depicted in my cartoons what I have seen all around me. Mother India is nobody but the 1.25 billion citizens of India, people like you and me. When we the people are insulted, India is insulted.

I have nothing but respect for the Constitution of India and its key drafter, Dr Ambedkar. I am pained when I see the Constitution disrespected. Through my cartoons I seek to prevent exactly such affront.

I am walking in the footsteps of Gandhi; I want to serve the nation through my own suffering. Do not be disturbed by my going to jail. Anna Hazare ji says that going to jail for the country is like wearing a jewel. That is why I am not asking for bail. I am proud of what I have done. I will say this again and again. I am not a criminal that I will deposit some money and get bail. Until the government repeals the authoritarian, British Raj law of sedition, I shall remain in jail. I will fight against Indian Penal Code Section 124A [sedition] and against censorship from within jail.

Yours,

Aseem Trivedi
Bandra Police Lock-up,
10 September 2012, 2:12 PM

Hindi original:

साथियो, मैं इस देश का एक सच्‍चा नागरिक हूं। कोई देशद्रोही नहीं हूं।

साथियो, अगर सच बोलना देशद्रोह है तो मैं देशद्रोही हूं। हां, मैं देशद्रोही हूं अगर देशप्रेम और देशद्रोह की परिभाषाएं बदल चुकी हैं। मैं भी देशद्रोही हूं अगर गांधी, भगत सिंह और आजाद देशद्रोही थे। दोस्‍तो, मेरा मकसद देश का एक छोटा बच्‍चा भी समझ सकता है। मैं अपने देश के नागरिकों और संविधान के अपमान का विरोध करता हूं और अपने कार्टूनों के माध्‍यम से मैं देश के प्रतीकों और संविधान के अपमान का विरोध करता आया हूं। दोस्‍तो, कला और साहित्‍य समाज का दर्पण है और मैंने अपने कार्टून्‍स में वही दिखाया है, जो अपने चारों ओर देखा है।

दोस्‍तो, भारत माता कोई और नहीं बल्कि हम और आप जैसे भारत के 125 करोड़ नागरिक ही हैं। और हमारा अपमान भारत मां का अपमान है।

मेरी पूर्ण आस्‍था भारतीय संविधान और संविधान निर्माता डॉ अंबेडकर के साथ है। इसलिए संविधान का अपमान होता देख मुझे कष्‍ट होता है। और मैं अपने कार्टून्‍स के जरिये इसे रोकना चाहता हूं।

मैं गांधी के रास्‍ते पर चल रहा हूं और स्‍वयं को कष्‍ट देकर देश की सेवा करना चाहता हूं। मेरे जेल में होने से परेशान न हों। अन्‍ना जी कहते हैं कि देश के लिए जेल जाना तो हमारा भूषण है। इसलिए मैं जमानत नहीं मांग रहा। क्‍योंकि मैंने जो किया, उस पर मुझे गर्व है और मैं बार-बार करूंगा। मैं कोई अपराधी नहीं हूं कि पैसे जमा कर के जमानत लूं। जब तक देशद्रोह जैसा तानाशाही और ब्रिटिश राज का ये कानून नहीं हटाया जाएगा, मैं जेल में रह कर ही 124 (A) और सेंसरशिप के खिलाफ लड़ाई लड़ता रहूंगा।

आपका,
असीम त्रिवेदी
बांद्रा पुलिस लॉक अप, 2:10 PM, 10.09.2012

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2012 8:58 AM

    In case of fire (a seditious poem)

    In case of fire
    Break glass

    In case of glass
    Have cutting chai

    In case of cutting
    Follow with pasting

    In case of pasting
    Pull up the posters

    In case of posters
    Memorize slogans

    In case of slogans
    Clench a fist

    In case of fists
    Throw a punch

    In case of punches
    Get rid of corruption

    In case of corruption
    India burning

    In case of fire
    Do not break glass

    In case of fire
    Do not douse this flame

  2. N.Chandramohan Naidu permalink
    September 11, 2012 9:49 AM

    Democracy does not just mean silent acceptance of anything and everything, there is freedom of speech and expession. If not then it is not a government for the people maybe it is made to look it is by people.

  3. Pari permalink
    September 11, 2012 11:19 AM

    While I agree that the sedition law is draconian and something which is used often by the State to repress any form of dissent and this cartoon in no way would about to an act of waging war against the state.The fact that the cartoons in themselves are not as wonderful as they are being promoted to be should also be noted…The most disturbing aspects of the entire incident is how the entire furor over the application of the sedition law, has completed neglected the extremely sexist nature of some of the cartoons (for instance the one involving a gang rape) are being completely ignored…also the statement mentioned in his letter wherein he seems to imply that only the accused par money to come out on bail is not only an exaggerated simplification but also quite narrow minded of him.

    • Nivedita Menon permalink*
      September 11, 2012 11:48 AM

      Pari, there is always an avoidable tendency in such cases to bring in irrelevant criteria of judgement. Do let us remember that Aseem is not in jail for making “tasteless” or “sexist” cartoons. If the expression of tastelessness or sexism (or “narrow-mindedness”) were the criterion for imprisoning people, the large majority of our elected representatives and honourable judges would have to be packed away.
      What is he in jail for? For criticizing – non-violently, with his pen – the functioning of democracy in India. That’s it, pure and simple. That is the ground on which we must defend him.

      • Pari permalink
        September 11, 2012 12:34 PM

        Dear Nivedita,
        I am in complete agreement regarding the absurdity of the charges and the absolutist nature of the state wherein any form of dissent is interpreted as a threat to national security and in this regard I am completely against his imprisonment. What my fear is that he might become some sort of hero and be equated to the status of a messiah which is dangerous

  4. September 11, 2012 11:34 AM

    संविधान में पहला संशोधन करने वाले को देशद्रोह में गिरफ्तार कर लो नेताजी!! उसी ने कहा था, संविधान ठीक नहीं, सुधारना चाहिए| और अपने को क्यों छोड़ देते हो, जो बात बात पर देश की इज्जत पर CWG, 2G. और कोयला पोत देते हो|

  5. September 11, 2012 10:49 PM

    @Pari: If you don’t want him to be a hero (and lets face it , some of those cartoons are not off the mark) , then you should support his immediate release from jail. No one cares about a cartoonist. Everyone cares about a jailed cartoonist.

    BTW – The translation is horrible – it completely butchers the beauty of his letter. I want to throw the translator in jail.

  6. nusrat khan permalink
    September 11, 2012 10:56 PM

    Aseem Trivedi is a Hero – I hope his unjust incarceration serves to nudge the apathetic Indian into demanding justice, freedom and equality for all Indians. Not as a favor from the Sonia Gandhi administration, but as our birthright guaranteed by the constitution of Indian Republic.

  7. September 12, 2012 7:50 AM

    The law on Sedition was and (if I may say so) is British — as in the “British” of the colonial days. Britain itself has moved on ! But we forget that. Nehru, the “last British gentleman” himself wanted to throw out this Sedition law ! You can read about that at http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/article1715761.ece

    This is the right time to repeal Section 124A. That alone would be Aseem Trivedi’s (he is just 25 years old!) great contribution to India and its people.

    The other bad law misused to arrest Aseem is the “IT Act” (Information Technology Act) and Sections 66A etc are especially vile and draconian. My own view is that those who cannot deal with diversity of information, some of which may be “grossly offensive” to them and perceived as of “menacing character” should just switch off their internet and go into full time meditation ! The IT Act is misused more by private parties than Govt of India, though. Sometimes the ‘powers that be’ get some obscure persons to file complaints and then motivate the arrests from behind the screens ! The IT Act is very open to abuse because cyber police are eager to carry out arrests under the pretext of investigative powers. The reason could be the usual bribery to the cyber cell personnel or also cases of official encouragement to carry out such harassment without written orders. A number of private companies have used the IT Act to arrest whistleblowers, detractors and complainants. For example, a report in Mumbai Mirror 15 April 2010 describes how cyber police arrested a person for IT Act provisions, on accusations by Gandhian retired Justice C S Dharmadhikari (of Satyameva Jayate fame). The person turns out to be a whistleblower, a former insider at an Indian School in Singapore owned by the Justice and members of the same “caste” interestingly ! And the online barbs against the Justice in a blog calling itself ‘Parents Forum for a better GIIS’ which wrote the Justice a so called open letter needling him (grossly offensive?) about his “clan” connection (of a “menacing character?” Or could it mean caste connections as in the Satyameva Jayate episode). An earlier DNA India report which reported anti fee-hike protests, see: http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_indian-expats-figh-fee-hike-through-blogs_1166668 is also reported as a trigger point in this cases. There are a dozen other reported cases which have abused the IT Act including those of Jay Polychem, Jamal Mohamed College etc, not to forget the likes of Rahul Krishnakumar Vaid and many others and probably a hundred unreported and whistleblowers nipped in the bud !

    As internet connectivity is becoming more available to the poorer classes, sections 66A and others of the IT Act should be repealed to align modern India with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

  8. September 12, 2012 2:38 PM

    Mrs. Indira G andhi during the emergency was at times tolerant because she had great sense of humour but present crop of leaders are bereft of intelligence as well as humour! Cartoonists are now endangered species in the ‘largest democracy of the world’!

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