The Chief Justice of India UU Lalit asked a pertinent question about journalist Siddique Kappan, currently incarcerated in Lucknow jail on terror charges, one that should apply to all cases of journalists wrongly arrested for pursuing their professional work :
Kappan, who was picked up by Uttar Pradesh police on October 5, 2020, while travelling to Hathras to cover the heinous gangrape and murder of a young Dalit woman, has valiantly tried to prove his innocence for over two years. A journalist with slender means, he hitched a ride with three persons who belonged to organisations linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI). Police also jailed the hapless driver of the cab they hired, Mohammad Alam, whose only crime was that he logged out of his Ola system and took up the ride as he wanted to make an extra buck. Alam secured bail only on Aug 23, 2022.
Kappan, Alam and the other members of the cab ride, Campus Front of India Atiq-ur Rehman and Masood Ahmed, were charged with attempting to foment trouble under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the operative word being “attempting” here.
In police custody, he was harassed and asked why he, a Muslim, was interested in the case of a Dalit girl? UP police mounted a conspiracy case, arrested eight persons in total and said, in a 5000-page chargesheet, that they were all members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and were out to foment trouble and disharmony. Th ey were charged under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), 295A (outraging sentiments) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC. Later, Sections 14, 17 and 18 of UAPA and Sections 65, 72 and 76 of the IT Act were added to the case.
Kappan will still await release as he faces charges under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) , accused of getting money from the PFI. The case has been stuck in court in Lucknow, date after date being given (now posted for Sept 19 for bail and discharge for Sept 20). The Enforcement Directorate is yet to even file its reply in the case.
Clearly from the Supreme Court hearings on the bail application today, there was scarcely any evidence to book any of them.
And then the clincher:
See SC order granting bail to Siddique Kappan here: