Raihanath, the wife of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in October 2020, has written to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, saying that his condition is in grave danger. Siddique Kappan recently tested positive for coronavirus and is presently admitted to a hospital in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.
In the letter, Raihanath has alleged that Siddique Kappan has been tied to a hospital bed and is not being able to take food or use the toilet for the past four days. Seeking immediate intervention in the matter, Raihanath has asked the CJI to shift him from the KM Medical College and Hospital in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura, immediately. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), which is fighting for the journalist’s release, also filed a petition in the Supreme Court on April 22, requesting to shift Siddique Kappan to AIIMS (All India Institute Of Medical Sciences) or the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.
Siddique Kappan was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police on October 5, 2020, while he was en route to Hathras to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was allegedly gang-raped by four men from a dominant caste in the region, and later succumbed to injuries. He has been charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA. The Uttar Pradesh police have accused the journalist of having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI). He has been lodged in a prison in Mathura since his arrest.
On April 20, however, Siddique Kappan collapsed inside the prison and sustained injuries. It was following this, on April 21, that he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Siddique Kappan was admitted to the KM Medical College and Hospital in Mathura. But his wife Raihanath alleged that he is not being humanely treated in the hospital.
“Kappan is chained like an animal to a cot of the Medical College Hospital, Mathura, without mobility, and he could neither take food nor go to the toilet for more than four days, and is very critical. If immediate corrective steps are not taken, it will result in his untimely death,” she wrote in the letter, which was submitted to the CJI by advocate Wills Mathews.
Speaking to TNM, Raihanath said that Kappan’s health condition was deteriorating even when he was in prison. “For the past many days, he had been having a fever and was not able to take food provided by the prison. It could be due to this that he eventually collapsed in the prison. But now, his condition has worsened. Since he has injuries in his face and head due to the fall, he cannot take any food. They have provided him with a bottle to urinate. Isn’t he a human, he is not even allowed to go to the toilet,” said Raihanath.
She also alleged that the prison officials are not informing his family about his condition. “I could only talk to him for two minutes on Saturday. It was then I came to know about his condition. I don’t even know if he is in a ward or the intensive care unit (ICU). Before I could ask anything, the call ended,” Raihanath said. She also added that Siddique Kappan wants to be moved back to jail, considering the condition at the hospital.
Speaking to the media on Sunday, Raihanath also slammed the Kerala government and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for not intervening in Kappan’s arrest. “If it was the election that the CM had feared, why can’t he at least intervene in the issue now? In his capacity as the Chief Minister, why can’t he intervene in the arrest of a Kerala journalist,” she asked.
Meanwhile, the letter to CJI also stated that a writ petition filed in the case by Kappan’s family has been pending before the court for the past six months. “Importantly, the media is the breath of democracy, and it is an attempt for giving breath to a media person, who is in jail for the last more than six months, and the Habeas Corpus petition also pending since October 6, 2020,” it stated.
“We want him back alive,” Raihanath said.
Watch: Raihanath talking to media