Siddique Kappan completes one year in jail, but for what?

Hyderabad: It has been one year since Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan was jailed. He was arrested in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to do his job as a journalist – to report the gruesome rape and murder of a Dalit girl.

The FIR against Kappan registered on October 7 in Mathura charged him with Section 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage reli­gious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or reli­gious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), along with provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Information Technology Act.

When produced in Mathura court earlier, Kappan reportedly said, “I still believe in our constitution but this is justice delayed. This is fake case, completely fake case”.

Several attempts to secure bail for Kappan, including the filing of a habeas corpus petition and a bail application in the Supreme Court, have come to naught.  Moreover, a ‘Black Day Protest’ meeting in support of Siddique Kappan was organised by the Press Club of India, Kerala Union of Working Journalists, Delhi Union of Journalists at the Press Club on Tuesday.

Kappan’s lawyers tried to move the Supreme Court under Art. 32 of the Constitution, to seek constitutional remedy for violation of fundamental rights. In May 2020, the Republic TV owner-editor Arnab Goswami had successfully used Art. 32 to seek quashing of multiple FIRs against him on charges of inflammatory statements and promoting enmity between religious groups (Section 153A of IPC).

But when it came to Kappan’s case, the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde said the court was discouraging citizens from approaching it with Art. 32 petitions.

Earlier in April, in a virtual meeting, Siddique Kappan’s wife, Rihana, said that her husband was tortured and harassed by the police.“He was asked by UP police if he used to eat beef. He said yes and was beaten up. Our family was not informed of his arrest, and we saw it from the news,” Rihana recalled about his arrest.

She added that her husband is also sick and that he has also tested positive for COVID-19 while in jail.