Mathura local court has adjourned the bail plea of Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan to July 5 for serving of copy, reply, and arguments. Siddique’s counsel requested his bail citing the death of his mother on June 18. Supreme Court had granted him 5 days interim bail to visit his ailing mother in February.
“He is a journalist by profession and he has not done anything beyond the ambit and scope of guidelines issued by the Press Council of India on professional standards to be maintained,” submitted Siddiuqe’s counsel before Additional District Magistrate Narendra Kumar Pandey.
3 Bailable Charges Dropped Against Siddique And Other Accused
On June 16, a Mathura court dropped three bailable charges against journalist Siddique Kappan and three other accused. The charges under Section 151, Section 107, and Section 116 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were dropped after police failed to file a chargesheet within a prescribed period of six months. However, the accused will remain in jail under the charges of UAPA and sedition.
Global Journalist Body Calls For Siddique’s Release
Welcoming the Mathura court decision to drop a breach of peace charges against Siddique and other accused, The Committee to Protect Journalists has urged the authorities to drop all the remaining charges too.
The Committee to Protect Journalists is an independent non-profit organisation that promotes press freedom worldwide.
When Siddique Kappan Was Arrested?
The accused, Siddique Kappan, a Kerala-based freelance journalist working for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham, Alam, a cab driver, Atiqur Rahman and Masood Ahmed, two activists of Campus Front of India were arrested on October 5, 2020. Initially, they were charged under the apprehension of causing a breach of peace under the Criminal Code of Procedure.
On October 7, when they were about to get released by the district magistrate, the police charged them under the Unlawful Assembly (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code, and Information Technology Act. They had been in jail for 8 months and 22 days.
Why Were They Arrested?
On 14 September 2020, a 19-year old Dalit woman was paralysed, strangled, tongue slit off, gang-raped, and brutalised in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. The woman succumbed to her injuries on September 29 after giving a dying declaration on September 22.
The matter got widespread media attention after Hathras police cremated the body of the victim in the midnight hours and that too without the consent of her family.
Siddique Kappan along with three others headed towards the victim’s house to cover the story on October 5 and were arrested. The police accused them of inciting communal riots and claimed them to be members of the Popular Front of India. In the 5000 page chargesheet filed by the UP Special Task Force in April 2021, it was claimed that they had received Rs 80 lakh from financial institutions in Doha and Muscat to incite riots.
Raihanth Kappan Letter to CJI NV Ramana
Raihanth Kappan, wife of Siddique Kappan wrote to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana describing Siddique’s condition. He was undergoing treatment at KM Medical College and Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura after testing positive for Covid-19. She alleged that Siddique was chained to the bed and was not allowed to use the toilet for four days. Her request to transfer him to AIIMS was accepted. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had also moved the Supreme Court requesting the same.
“Had There Been a Non-Muslim With Us, We Would Not Have Been Arrested,” said Alam, the cab driver who agreed to offer a ride to Siddique to earn an extra penny.