Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan Leaves UP Jail After Over 2 Years
Siddique Kappan, a Kerala-born journalist who was detained in Uttar Pradesh more than two years ago while covering the alleged rape of a young woman whose death caused widespread demonstrations, was today released from custody. More than a month after he was granted bail in the two charges against him, a special court in Lucknow signed the order releasing him.
Last night, Mr. Kappan was supposed to leave, but he was unable to do so because the judge of the Special Court on Prevention of Money Laundering was involved in a bar council election.
“I will continue my fight against draconian laws. They kept me in jail even after I got bail. I don’t know who’s benefiting from my being in jail. These two years were very tough, but I was never afraid,” he told NDTV after his release from the Lucknow jail.
On his way to Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, in October 2020 to report on the alleged gang rape and death of a 20-year-old Dalit woman, which led to riots across the nation, he was detained. He was headed there, according to the cops, to stir some trouble.
A week after allegedly being subjected to many gang rapes, the woman passed away in a hospital in Delhi. The district authorities cremated her in the middle of the night in her hamlet, which led to claims of a cover-up and considerable criticism of the Yogi Adityanath administration. Sedition charges were brought against Mr. Kappan under the strict anti-terror law UAPA. The Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering complaint against him in February 2022, alleging that he received funds from the outlawed People’s Front of India.
The Supreme Court granted him bail in September of last year after noting that no official charges had been brought against him and that a document found by the state police under the name “Toolkit” solely called for justice in the rape case.
Three months later, he was granted bail in the charge of money laundering. But his release was held up due to multiple bureaucratic lapses.
The opposition and civil society groups have condemned Mr Kappan’s arrest as motivated by the Uttar Pradesh government’s efforts to avoid negative coverage over the incident in Hathras and said it was a case of the BJP government trying to muzzle the media.
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