Image Courtesy: G. Bala
Cartoonist G. Bala, who was arrested for a cartoon that allegedly depicted officials and politicians in poor light, was granted bail by Tirunelveli district court in Tamil Nadu on Monday.
Bala was arrested from his residence in Chennai on Sunday on a complaint lodged by Tirunelveli District Collector Sandeep Nanduri for lampooning him, Chief Minister K. Palaniswamy and a police officer following the self-immolation of four persons of a family who were unable to pay back a loan they had borrowed from a loan shark.
In his cartoon, Bala had portrayed the image of a burning child on the ground with three caricatures in their loincloth, named as Tirunelveli District Collector, Chief Minister and Tamil Nadu Police watching it.
Recently, a labourer Esaki Muthu along with his wife and two children set themselves ablaze in Tirunelveli, unable to bear the harassment by the moneylender. Muthu had earlier petitioned the police and District Collector to save his family from the moneylender.
A day after the demise of Muthu and his family, Bala had posted the cartoon which was termed by the police as “obscene representation” on his Facebook wall. The cartoonist cum social activist Bala had published a 136-page book of cartoons titled as the “Namukku Ethukku Vambu” roughly translated as “why do we have conceit”.
The arrest of the cartoonist which occurred under the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code, however, is not the first incident which has taken place in the recent past.
In 2012 in West Bengal, Ambikesh Mahapatra, a professor at Jadavpur University, was arrested for circulating a cartoon which allegedly “defamed” chief minister Mamata Banerjee. During the same year, cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested on sedition charges by Mumbai police for his work extending support to the Anna Hazare movement.
During March in this year, the Karnataka unit of BJP had filed a case against the cartoonist for uploading a cartoon on PM Modi which allegedly showed him in a poor light. The cartoonist was booked under the charges of ‘promoting enmity between groups, publishing obscene material on social media and inciting people to cause offence’.
Following all these incidents, one more cartoonist, Nituparna Rajbongs, received death threats for criticizing Modi for the recent deaths of children in BRD medical college, Gorakhpur.
The criticism on ruling class was always unbearable for them. To crack down the voices of dissent, the respective states their machinery. Other than cartoonists, several performing artists, journalists, writers, and social activists also face censure when their work tend to turn political.
Inputs from IANS