News Laundry: ‘Beaten for knowing Arabic and studying at Jamia’: Siddique Kappan’s wife on his 700 days in jail

Raihanath Kappan talks about her daughter’s viral I-Day speech and how the police didn’t even let her husband speak to her in Malayalam.

By Nidhi Suresh / News Laundry

At 2.30 am on October 6, 2020, Raihanath was frantically checking her phone. She hadn’t heard from her husband since midnight the day before. Perplexingly, the messages she’d sent him had been read and her voice notes played, so why wasn’t her husband responding?

What Raihanath didn’t know was that her husband hadn’t checked his phone at all – it was the Uttar Pradesh police that had accessed their private chats.

Her husband, Siddique Kappan, had been arrested on October 5 while on his way to Hathras to report on the gangrape, and subsequent death, of a Dalit woman.

Siddique has been in jail ever since, charged with sedition and under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. He was first imprisoned in Mathura, and then moved to Lucknow. The UP police had accused Kappan of seditioncriminal conspiracy, and funding terror activities.

Over the last two years, Siddique’s story has been told multiple times by multiple news outlets, and Raihanath is still waiting for their family of five to be reunited. Crushingly, the Allahabad High Court dismissed Siddique’s bail plea on August 2. Raihanath is now trying to apply for bail in the Supreme Court.

“I used to be a happy and content mother and wife. My life was a small bubble in Kerala,” she said. Today, she’s reading chargesheets, case laws, bail orders, and news reports. “I’ve had to become a lawyer, journalist, activist, running from pillar to post for my love.”

Newslaundry met Raihanath, 39, at Travancore House in Delhi, where she’s been given accommodation by the Kerala government. She and her son, Muhammad Muzzamil, 19, had gone to Lucknow on August 19 to attend Siddique’s NIA case hearing, hoping to meet him at the district court. Raihanath had last met him on July 15.

“But he was not brought to the court,” she said. “So, I came to Delhi without seeing him.”

In Delhi, she clutches her phone at all times to make sure she never misses a phone call.

“Every time the phone rings, I hope it will be Kappan,” she said. She last spoke to him on August 19, just before she boarded the flight to Lucknow. “After that, he hasn’t called. He must be wondering why we have not met him.”

She got up, walked over to a bag, and pulled out a packet of peanut chikki. Handing this reporter a piece, she said, “I brought this from Kerala for Kappan. And now I can’t give it to him, so we might as well share it.”

A viral speech on Independence Day

Raihanath grew up in Malappuram in north Kerala. She married Siddique in 2002 when she was 19 years old. He was working as a computer teacher at the time and soon moved to Saudi Arabia for nine years, where he worked as a computer technician.

Raihanath stayed behind in Kerala to look after his parents. Siddique returned to India in early 2011 after the death of his father. “That’s when he thought he should try his hand at journalism,” Raihanath said. He moved to Delhi, first freelancing, then working for Tejas followed by Azhimukam. He returned to Kerala in July 2020.

The couple has three children – Muzzammil, 19, Zidan, 13, and Mehnaz, 9. It’s Mehnaz who, on August 15, gave a speech about her father at her school’s Independence Day celebrations.

“I am Mehnaz Kappan, daughter of Siddique Kappan, a citizen who has been forced into a dark room,” she said.

Her speech went viral on social media.

This story was originally published in . Read the full story here

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