The Uttar Pradesh police detained a journalist and three other men who were en route to Hathras to cover the rape case of a 19-year-old Dalit woman. Siddique Kappan, the Delhi-based journalist, does freelance work for several Malayalam media houses. Apart from the Kerala journalist, Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam were also detained and questioned by the police. The four were detained and taken into police custody on October 5 at the Hathras toll plaza.
The UP police claimed that they received information that “some people” were moving to Hathras from New Delhi. The vehicle in which the four were travelling, were stopped. The police then seized their phones, laptops and some pieces of literature, which the officials claim “could have impact on peace in the area”. They then alleged that they suspect the four have links to Popular Front of India and its campus wing called the Campus Front of India. Earlier this year, the UP police had called for a ban on PFI.
Criticising the detention, the New Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) wrote to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, stating that Siddique, who is also the secretary of KUWJ Delhi unit was only doing his job as a reporter and was travelling to Hathras to cover the rape case.
“We understand that he was taken into police custody by Uttar Pradesh police from Hathras toll plaza. Our efforts and the efforts by some advocates based in Delhi to contact him were not successful. The Hathras Police Station and the State Police department has not provided any information so far on taking him into custody. Mr. Kappan was trying to do his duty as a reporter. We urge you to get him released at the earliest,” the letter said.
Incidentally, a Malayalam website had earlier claimed that Siddique had links to PFI. However, he reportedly took legal action against the website.
Speaking to TNM, KN Ashok, the editor of Malayalam website Azhimukham, where Siddique works as a contributor, said the journalist had officially informed them that he had sent the legal notice to the website that made the allegations.
“We are not sure who are the three persons who travelled with him in the car. Siddique, on Monday early morning, informed us that he was travelling to Hathras to cover the rape case. Since we did not hear back from him, we called him in the evening, but we could not get through to him. It was from social media that we learnt that he has been detained by the UP police,” said Ashok.
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) visited three spots in Hathras - the woman’s house, the cremation ground where she was hurriedly cremated by the police, and the site where the alleged rape took place. Meanwhile, the UP government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, alleging conspiracy to defame the government, “despite the diligent investigation being conducted".