Sedition charge dropped against Indian cartoonist

MUMBAI: An Indian state has dropped charges of sedition against a cartoonist who was arrested over his anti-corruption drawings last month in a case that outraged free-speech activists, his lawyer said Friday.

Aseem Trivedi, 25, was detained and bailed four days later under laws governing sedition, information technology and protecting India’s national flag and constitution.
“The sedition charges have been dropped but the other charges continue,” his lawyer Vijay Hiremath told AFP, explaining that western Maharashtra state’s advocate general had filed an affidavit to the Bombay High Court.

Trivedi’s arrest had sparked a backlash against Indian authorities, accused by campaigners and rights groups of using British colonial-era sedition laws to silence dissent in the country.

The maximum penalty for sedition in India is life imprisonment. Trivedi’s controversial cartoons include one of the national emblem with lions replaced by blood-thirsty wolves, and another depicting the parliament in New Delhi as a huge toilet bowl.

One sketch titled “Gang Rape of Mother India” shows a woman draped in the Indian flag being held down by a politician and a bureaucrat as a horned animal depicting corruption appears ready to attack her.

Trivedi, who is currently taking part in the Indian equivalent of the “Big Brother” reality show, told AFP last week that the case had not deterred him from his political drawings.
“I will keep on with my campaign against corruption, my cartoons and my art,” he said.
“My anger was against corruption. This whole case was just a part of the story.”

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