Lucknow: Journalist Siddique Kappan released today from Lucknow jail after being granted bail. He was arrested over two years ago on his way to report the alleged rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. It sparked nationwide as well as outside India protests.
The UP police claimed that Kappan was going there with the intention of creating unrest and charged him with sedition and under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The Enforcement Directorate later filed a money laundering case against him, accusing him of receiving money from the banned People’s Front of India.
In September 2022, the Supreme Court granted Kappan bail in the UAPA case, observing that no formal charges had been filed against him and the “Toolkit” document recovered by the state police only propagated a call for justice in the rape case. Three months later, he was granted bail in the money laundering case as well. However, he remained in jail due to bureaucratic lapses until he was finally released.
Opposition parties and civil society groups have condemned Kappan’s arrest as politically motivated and an attempt by the Uttar Pradesh government to avoid negative media coverage. The police have claimed that Kappan and others arrested with him are members of the banned Popular Front of India and its student wing, the Campus Front of India.
However, Kappan has repeatedly denied any involvement in terror activities or financing and argued that he was on his way to Hathras for journalistic work.
After his release, Kappan stated that he will continue to fight against the “draconian laws” and said he doesn’t know who benefitted from his being in jail. The opposition and civil society groups have also criticized the BJP government’s efforts to muzzle the media.
“False allegations were put against me. I am happy to be out now,” said Kappan.