Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan Walks Out Of Jail After 2 Years
UP Police arrested Siddique Kappan on October 5, 2020 when he was en route Hathras to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit girl there.
More than two years after he was incarcerated Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan walked out of Lucknow jail on Thursday. Kappan’s release order comes more than three months after the Supreme Court and the Allahabad High Court granted him bail.
A sessions court judge signed the release order earlier today. Kappan’s release was long overdue considering Supreme Court granted him bail in September 2022 followed by bail from the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court three months later in December.
Kappan is required to stay in Delhi for six weeks and mark his presence before the local police station every Monday in accordance with the conditions imposed by the Supreme Court while granting him bail in September 2020. Post-six weeks, Kappan can relocate to Mallapuram, his hometown in Kerala and mark his presence with the local police station every Monday.
Advocate Mohammad Dhanish KS, representing Kappan, confirmed that the sureties had been accepted and verified by the court paving the way for the release.
In October 2020, Uttar Pradesh police arrested Kappan when he was en route to Hathras to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit girl there.
What is the case against Siddique Kappan?
UP Police accused Kappan of using journalism as a “cover” to meet the Hathras victim’s kin and incite communal unrest and disrupt the social fabric of the society. UP police had told Supreme Court that Kappan has a deep nexus with the now-banned extremist organisation – Popular Front of India (PFI) and its chapters including Campus Front of India (CFI).
The police further invoked provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Kappan was subsequently accused of money laundering as well.
Sometimes protests are needed to bring about a change: SC
Siddique Kappan was granted bail by the Supreme Court in September 2020. While granting relief, Supreme Court had noted that the Uttar Pradesh government had not “shown anything provocative” against Kappan.
Referring to the ‘Justice for Hathras Girl’ posters, the material on how to interact with the police in a violent situation and other paraphernalia, then Chief Justice of India UU Lalit had observed, “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?”
“Sometimes, protests are required,” Justice S Ravindra Bhat, one of the three judges on the bench, had observed. “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. These are protests,” he had said.
Insufficient evidence to prove Kappan dealt with funds received by PFI Secretary: Allahabad HC
In December 2022, Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had granted Kappan bail in the Enforcement Directorate’s case against him. The HC noted that even if one assumed that proceeds of a crime were transferred to co-accused Atikur Rahman, that was insufficient to prove Kappan dealt with money received by PFI secretary KA Rauf Sherif.
The ED had alleged that Kappan and his co-accused were PFI members and were going to Hathras as part of the larger conspiracy hatched by PFI Secretary Sherif to disturb communal harmony.
However, the complaint disclosed that Siddique had transferred only Rs.5,000 to Rehman. While granting bail, the HC said: “Even if it is believed that part of the proceeds of the crime was transferred to the bank account of the co-accused, Atikur Rahman that itself may not be sufficient to prove that the accused-applicant has dealt with the proceeds of crime amounting to Rs. 1,36,14,291/-which had been allegedly received by K.A. Rauf Sherif.”
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