“I haven’t seen the cartoons but I have come to support Aseem Trivedi as he is fighting against sedition, the same charges that have been levied against me.” These words were spoken by Dr Binayak Sen, activist and paediatrician who has been accused of sedition by the government of India, and has now committed himself to fighting against sedition laws in the country.
Sen was present at the support meet for Trivedi, after the cartoonist was finally released from jail. Trivedi had been charged with sedition and put behind the bars on Saturday.
The 24-year-old was released from the Arthur Road jail yesterday afternoon. While he wasn’t ready to accept the bail granted to him on Tuesday, he subsequently changed his mind.
Immediately after his release, Trivedi headed towards the Mumbai Press Club, where he and Sen addressed the media. While Trivedi appeared to be trying to establish his closeness to Sen and his crusade, the latter appeared somewhat uncomfortable.
Trivedi said, “We will fight against the sedition charges together. This is an archaic law that has put even freedom fighters like Gandhi and Tilak behind bars. I am fighting against this law now, and in the future I am sure everyone else would join the fight – the whole of India would fight against this law.”
Trivedi claimed that his cartoons hold up a mirror to society and represent what is happening in the nation. He announced that he would draw cartoons of the Mumbai police, and his cartoons would continue to provide sharp criticism of wrongdoings.
Trivedi, along with his friends, plans to leave for Delhi today. “We have a small group in Delhi that has been fighting to raise the voice of the common man,” said Alok Dixit, Trivedi’s friend.
While Binayak shared the same dais as Trivedi, he reiterated that his presence was only due to the fact that he too is fighting against the sedition laws in the country, and wants them to be abolished completely. However, Sen wasn’t ready to make any comment on Trivedi’s cartoons.
“I am here to support the cause that sedition laws should be abolished, I have initiated a signature campaign against this law and expect lakhs to sign it,” said Sen.
Asked if Sen would enlist himself as part of Anna’s campaign, he was prompt in replying, “I have nothing to do with Anna currently, I am here to talk on a different issue.”
Sen, who was arrested for keeping banned literature, was asked if he still has ‘those’ kinds of books with him. He said, “Being an academician, I have too much literature, and I don’t know what ‘those’ or ‘these’ kind of books are.”