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Indian Cartoonist Satish Acharya Says He Was Pressured to Take Down Cartoon

10/06/2011

Cartoon by Satish Acharya, Mid Day

According to Indian cartoonist Satish Acharya, shortly after he posted on his blog a cartoon poking fun of Nationalist Congress Party Chief Sharad Pawar and many days after the cartoon appeared in the September 5th edition of the newspaper Mid Day, Senior Police Inspector Mukund Pawar of the Cyber Branch of the Mumbai Police, citing a criminal provision, asked Satish to remove the cartoon from his personal blog.

On September 5, 2011, Mid Day published the cartoon by Satish lampooning Sharad Pawar's recent public claim that he had a net worth of only Rs12 core, or about $2 million.  He is believed to have a net worth far exceeding that figure.  Satish claims that after he posted the cartoon on his personal blog, he received a call from Inspector Mukund Pawar.  According to Satish, Inspector Pawar told him that the chairman of the Adivsory Council of Delhi's Jama Masjid (India's largest mosque) made a complaint to the police about the cartoon. 

According to Satish's blog, the "officer had cited section 69 of the Information Technology Act to have the 'obscene' cartoon removed."  As Satish continues in his blog entry, "Section 69 of the IT Act, however, empowers the Central government/State government/ its authorised agency to intercept, monitor or decrypt any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource if it is necessary or expedient so to do [so] in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence or for investigation of any offence."  Inspector Pawar, however, claims to have no memory of speaking with Satish about the cartoon.  

Satish says that after receiving the call, he consulted friends and took down the cartoon from his blog.  He also says that shortly afterwards he received a follow-up call from the Inspector.  But then Satish blogged about the incident.  The alleged incident of police intimidation outraged many Indian citizens.  Satish has since reposted the cartoon. 

To read more about this curious story, click on Satish's Blog and Is This Cartoon Obscene? Mumbai Police Thinks So! from Rediff.com.  Carol Hills, producer with Public Radio International's The World, has her own take on this story and the other recent disturbing cartooning story from India.  Click on India Gets Serious About Cartoons to read and listen to Carol's report.