Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi once arrested for sedition, says free speech 'not in good condition'

Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi once arrested for sedition, says free speech 'not in good condition'

Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi once arrested for sedition, says free speech 'not in good condition'

Updated 22 October 2017, 14:35 AEDT

An Indian political cartoonist arrested for sedition in 2012 after posting a a series of caricatures online which mocked the Government says freedom of speech in his country has only worsened in the years since.

An Indian political cartoonist arrested for sedition in 2012 for posting a series of caricatures online that mocked the Government has said freedom of speech in his country has only worsened in the years since.

"I don't think freedom of speech is in a good condition over there," Aseem Trivedi, 30, told the ABC, citing numerous counts of sedition charges since.

However, having been subjected to a Government crackdown on freedom of speech of his own, Trivedi said he now feels a sense of duty to create more cartoons to help those being targeted by the Government.

Trivedi is best known for his campaign Cartoons Against Corruption.

In 2011, Mumbai police banned the campaign, and in September 2012, Trivedi was handed three charges, including sedition, over its content.

'It's not only about sedition, there is a big problem'

Although the sedition charges were scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015, Trivedi told the ABC the situation remained stark.

"Of course there have been a lot of cases after my arrest when people were charged with sedition chargers," Trivedi said, citing a series of student leaders and artists.

"[But] it's not only about sedition charges, there is a big problem in India where [social media is getting closed down].

"They started with [critics of the ruling party] and now they're just shutting anymore who is critical of government.

"They will harass you and abuse you, so I think free speech is not in a good condition there. A journalist was killed there a month ago."

The ABC has contacted the High Commissioner of India to Australia for comment.

Trivedi said the Government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not trying to address the country's many pressing issues — such as poverty and corruption — but instead trying to distract with "pseudo nationalism".

"They want people to be fired and excited and they want to rule them in the name of nationalism, so people are kind of misguided," he said.

"Every critic that speaks against Modi, he is labelled as anti-national."

'When I was in jail I depended on people outside'

In 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, Trivedi started Black & White, an attempt to use cartoons to champion for the rights of those who are facing injustice and oppression.

"After my arrest, I could understand the pain and the situation a journalist or a writer faces while he is censored, while he is jailed," Trivedi said, citing numerous cases including that of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi.

"Now I'm trying to support those people from different parts so I just keep an eye on such cases and try to contribute to my art.

"Because when I was in jail, I was completely dependent on people on the outside.

"So I'm just trying to repay the debt maybe, and use my art to help and support them in their cases."