Siddique Kappan Case: Who Is The Kerala Journalist And Why Was He Arrested?
Siddique Kappan was arrested in October 2020 on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh where four upper cast men had raped a Dalit teen who died two weeks later.
Siddique Kappan, the Kerala journalist who was arrested on his way to Hathras in October 2020, was granted bail by the Supreme Court on Friday. The court directed Kappan to remain Delhi for the next six weeks and present himself at a local police station on Mondays.
Kappan will be allowed to return to Kerala after six weeks where he or his lawyer will have to attend trial court proceedings daily. Kappan cannot travel outside the country and must submit his passport.
Here's a look at the details of the case as the journalist gets bail after two years in prison:
Who is Siddique Kappan?
Siddique Kappan was a journalist with the Malayalam news website Azhimukham and was based out of Delhi when he was arrested. Kappan was also the secretary of the Delhi chapter of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists. According to a report in Outlook, he was a computer engineer and quit his job to pursue journalism.
Kappan is married to Raihanath and has three children.
According to a report in Article14, Kappan was a teacher in his hometown Vengara. He then worked in Saudi Arabia for nine years till 2011, after which he returned to India and stayed back.
What happened during his arrest?
Kappan was on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh when he was arrested along with others in October 2020. This was after the death of a 19-year-old Dalit girl from Hathras who was gang-raped by four upper-caste men.
The Uttar Pradesh police stopped a car in which Kappan was travelling from Delhi to Hathras.
The Hindu reported that the FIR alleged that Kappan and his associates alleged they were gathering foreign funds to trigger caste riots through websites called named 'carrd.co' and 'justiceforhathras'. The police claimed they found pamphlets from the four people who were arrested that read "Am I not India's Daughter, Made With Carrd".
The newspaper reported that the FIR called them "anti-social elements". It quoted the FIR as saying, "Such websites are evoking anti-national feelings among the youth."
What was Kappan charged with?
Kappan was charged under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code. He was charged with sedition, outraging religious feelings, promoting enmity between groups and raising funds for terror activities.
In a case against the Popular Front of India (PFI) for money laundering and funding anti-CAA protests in Delhi, 2020 Delhi riots and the Hathras protest, the Enforcement Directorate also named Kappan.
What was his connection with PFI?
Kappan's family and acquaintances have refuted claims that he was part of PFI. His wife Raihan told Article14, "Had he been receiving funds, would we be living like this?" His friend and KUWJ member, PK Manikandan, told the website it was a ridiculous accusation. He said, "At Thejas, Kappan was an employee who got paid for his job. In fact, Kappan is someone who has written a critical piece on the PFI later."
After the ED charge sheet, PFI had claimed in August 2021, that those named in the charge sheet, were not its members. PTI had reported PFI general secretary Anis Ahmed as saying, "Members/office bearers of other organisations are portrayed as Popular Front office bearers. This is not an innocent mistake at all."
Earlier this week, the UP government told the Supreme Court that investigations had revealed that Kappan had "deep links" with PFI. PTI quoted an affidavit submitted by the UP government as saying, "The investigation has revealed that the Petitioner is part of the larger conspiracy with the co-accused (including the financial launderer of CFI, Rauf Sharif) to foment religious discord and spread terror in the country, especially in the wake of anti-CAA protests and violence, the Babri Masjid decision of this Court and the Hathras incident."
What did the Supreme Court say while granting bail?
While the Uttar Pradesh government said that the material found on Kappan showed he was trying to spread "propaganda", the Chief Justice of India UU Lalit said people had the right to freedom of expression. "Every person has the right to free expression. Is that a crime in law? He is trying to show that victim needs justice and raise a common voice. Will this be a crime in the eyes of the law?" CJI Lalit said.
Supreme Court Justice Ravindra Bhat said on Friday, "Till now you (UP govt) have not shown anything provocative. Sometimes, protests are required... There were protests at India Gate in 2011 also for Nirbhaya. Sometimes protests are needed to bring a change. You know after that there was a change in laws.
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