“I want justice. I believe in our Constitution, but justice is being delayed. This is a completely fake case,” said journalist Siddique Kappan as he was escorted out of a Mathura court in Uttar Pradesh on June 15. This is the first time that the Delhi-based journalist from Kerala was speaking to the media after he and three others (Atiqur Rahman, Masood Ahmed and Alam) were arrested in October 2020 en route to Hathras to cover the alleged gangrape-murder of a Dalit woman. The Uttar Pradesh police accused him of having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI) and filed an FIR stating that he, along with three others, were travelling to Hathras to ‘disrupt peace’.
“We have no connection with the case. We are being trapped. This is Yogi (Adityanath) government’s dictatorship,” another accused in the case, said he was also being taken into the police van along with Siddique Kappan.
On June 15, the Mathura court dropped the proceedings on charges related to apprehension of breach of peace against the four accused as the Uttar Pradesh police failed to complete the inquiry against them within six months, as stipulated under section 116 (6) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Under the Section, all proceedings stand terminated unless the Magistrate directs otherwise.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) and his wife have been fighting for Siddique Kappan’s release since October 2020. The family, on several occasions, said that the Uttar Pradesh police foisted the case on him. The Uttar Pradesh police first booked them under the charges of apprehension of breach of peace. They later booked them under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA.
According to LiveLaw, while the accused denied all allegations against them, the Mathura court discharged the charges on technical grounds, stating that the police failed to provide evidence within the prescribed six months. The Uttar Pradesh police said that Siddique used his old identity card as a journalist when travelling to Hathras and that he had links with the PFI. However, no charges have been proven yet.
Siddique Kappan and the three accused have been in judicial custody since April 2021. Siddique recently tested positive for coronavirus. Although he was admitted to a hospital in Mathura, his family and KUWJ approached the Supreme Court, stating that the journalist was chained to the hospital bed and not allowed to use the toilet. The Supreme Court finally directed the Uttar Pradesh police to shift to AIIMS in Delhi, although he was shifted back to the Mathura jail soon. His family alleged that the police did not allow them to meet Siddique when he was unwell.
This story was first appeared on thenewsminute.com