A defiant Indian cartoonist charged with sedition was released from prison on bail Wednesday, four days after being arrested in a case that has triggered outrage from free speech campaigners.
"Although I'm free, the battle will continue," Aseem Trivedi, whose sketches often mock the government for corruption, told a mob of supporters and reporters outside Arthur Road jail in Mumbai.
"Whenever there is an infringement of legal rights, our fight will continue," he said.
Trivedi, who was arrested after a private complaint about his work, walked out of prison after the High Court in Mumbai granted him bail late Tuesday on a bond of 5,000 rupees ($90).
His arrest at the weekend sparked a backlash against the government, which has been accused of using British colonial-era sedition laws to crack down on dissent.
"I'm happy there has been a debate on sedition," the bearded and bespectacled Trivedi, 25, said after his release, flashing a victory sign to the crowd.
"In parliament, we see money exchanging hands (and) scandals worth millions being disclosed," he said.
"You tell me who is embarrassing the parliament, me or the politicians? I have committed no crime."
Cartoons on Trivedi's website include one of the national emblem with lions replaced by blood-thirsty wolves, and another depicting the parliament in New Delhi as a huge toilet bowl.
One sketch titled "Gang Rape of Mother India" shows a woman draped in the Indian flag being held down by a politician and a bureaucrat as a horned animal depicting corruption appears ready to attack her.
Human Rights Watch joined the chorus of protest against his arrest on Wednesday, calling for the "politically motivated" charges to be dismissed.
"Arresting cartoonists for their stinging satire is a hallmark of a dictatorship, not a democracy," Meenakshi Ganguly, the group's South Asia director, said.
The criticism was echoed by Trivedi at a press conference later on Wednesday, where he appeared alongside other political activists and thanked the media for their support.
"Every democracy is incomplete until freedom of speech and expression are there," he said, adding India's sedition law is "misused more than it is used".
"How long will we adopt a British colonial law?"
Trivedi was detained in Mumbai on Saturday under laws governing sedition, information technology and protecting India's national flag and constitution.
The maximum penalty for sedition in India is life imprisonment.
Media rights groups Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists have also called for all charges against Trivedi to be dropped.
His arrest came after India ordered more than 300 websites, social networking pages, Twitter accounts and other online content to be blocked last month in an attempt to halt the spread of rumours about ethnic violence.
In the most famous recent sedition case, Indian doctor and human rights activist Binayak Sen was jailed for life in 2010 for allegedly helping Maoist rebels. He was freed on bail last year on the instructions of the Supreme Court.
India has lately shown sensitivity to criticism of its leaders, with the government responding angrily to a Washington Post article on the struggling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been hit by a string of graft scandals.
Cartoons in India have also come under fire before. In May, lawmakers reacted in fury to an old cartoon being used in school textbooks lampooning B.R. Ambedkar, author of India's constitution.