With the arrest last week of Kanhaiya Kumar, president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union, the Indian government has once again shown its over-enthusiasm in deploying a colonial-era sedition law to clamp down dissent. Kumar was arrested for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans at a meeting to mark the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was hanged after being convicted in the 2001 Parliament attacks.
The sedition charge is an old trick to stifle protest. Patidar activist Hardik Patel who was arrested in September 2015 was charged with sedition with the police claiming that he incited his followers to violence to pressure the government into accepting his demands for quotas for the community in government jobs and educational institutions. The sedition law was used in 2012 against cartoonist Aseem Trivedi for illustrating Parliament as a toilet, and the same year against anti-nuclear activist Udaykumar for protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear plant.
The right to dissent has come back sharply into focus in the wake of the JNU crisis. The most telling commentary as come form editorial cartoonists on the charges against Kumar and the reactions of politicians in the uproar. Here is a selection.