Indian National Congress leader and Member of Parliament from Vadakara, K Muraleedharan, has written to the Prime Minister demanding the immediate release of Siddique Kappan. Kappan is a Malayalam news jorunalist based in Delhi, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on October 4 while he was on his way to Hathras to report on the the alleged gang rape and subsequent death of a 19-year-old dalit woman. A day later, he and three others were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and housed in the Mathura prison.
“I am writing this letter to bring to your attention an incident which is a shame on our democratic values...Siddique Kappan has been booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and stringent provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)....The news item (sic) on the arrest of Siddique Kappan has caught public attention and the act of the UP police is widely condemned,” K Muraleedharan wrote in his letter.
Kappan is also the secretary of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, Delhi Unit. Muraleedharan added that the journalist’s arrest has been “construed as an infringement on freedom of speech and press”.
“I request your good offices to intervene in the matter to ensure fair justice is provided to Siddique Kappan and he is not detained unnecessarily for a long time. I personally demand his immediate release,” the letter read.
The Chadpa police station in Uttar Pradesh registered a case against the journalist alleging that he was involved in a ‘conspiracy to instigate riots along caste lines and defame the state government over the alleged rape and murder’.
Siddique Kappan and Campus Front of India (CFI) members Atiq-ur-Rahman (25), Masood Ahmed (26) and Alam (26) were arrested togather. The CFI is the student wing of the Popular Front of India (PFI), an organisation which the Uttar Pradesh government wants banned, for its alleged involvement in protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). According to the Indian Express, a local court has issued a warrant asking for Kappan and the three others to be produced in court.
Siddique Kappan’s arrest has triggered big outrage in Kerala. Recently, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, New Delhi unit president, said that the UP police had violated Supreme Court guidelines by imposing UAPA and the sedition law against Siddique Kappan. Several journalists associations have also condemned the action of the UP police and demanded Siddique Kappan’s immediate release.