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Police cut short quizzing cartoonist Aseem Trivedi

Mumbai(IANS): Barely a day after a cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was sent to seven days police custody after being arrested on sedition charges, investigators cut short his questioning and presented him in a Mumbai court Monday. He was sent to judicial custody till Sep 24, an activist said.

Trivedi, 25, an anti-corruption campaigner, is accused of uploading “ugly and obscene” matter on his web portal and putting up objectionable banners insulting the constitution during Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation here last December.

He was nabbed by police from Bandra-Kurla after a non-bailable warrant was issued against him. A Bandra magistrate Sunday sent him to seven days police custody.

Police, however, questioned him for a day and decided not to grill him any further. The sudden turnaround by police on the duration of Trivedi’s custodial interrogation came after a furore over his arrest late Saturday.

Trivedi faces sedition charge under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code, along with other offences under the Information Technology Act.

An India Against Corruption (IAC) activist said the cartoonist Monday was also permitted to briefly meet his lawyer and social workers who have been protesting against his arrest.

In Nashik, Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil earlier assured reporters that Trivedi would not remain in police custody after investigations in the case were completed.

“Aseem told us that he is prepared to remain in custody for as long as required and would not appoint a lawyer or seek bail until the charge of sedition slapped on him were dropped,” IAC member Preeti Menon told IANS.

The IAC demanded that Trivedi should be released unconditionally and all the charges against him, including the baseless sedition charge, must be dropped.

In New Delhi, Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju termed the sedition charge against Trivedi as “stupid” and demanded action against politicians and police responsible for arresting the cartoonist.

A statement issued by the IAC said that Trivedi’s harassment “smacks of vendetta against the anti-corruption movement, and portrays sign of a paranoid state”.

“IAC firmly stands for freedom of expression and expresses its anguish against a growing culture of intolerance for creative expression in the public domain,” the statement added.

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