Introducing herself as the wife of journalist Sidhique Kappan, who was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police last month, Raihanath Sidhique made a plea for her husband's release on Monday. She was at the press club in Thiruvananthapuram, seeking the support of the media for a fellow journalist and requesting the intervention of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
It was on October 5 that Sidhique Kappan, a Delhi-based Malayali journalist, was arrested along with three others on his way to Hathras, to report the alleged gang rape and murder of a young Dalit woman. The UP police booked them under the charges of sedition and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), claiming possession of materials indicating they have links to the Popular Front of India (PFI).
Raihanath said on Monday that Sidhique has not been allowed to meet either his family or a lawyer for over a month. "I have three children and an old mother. We were not given a chance to see him. I haven't spoken to him yet. On November 2, he was briefly allowed to call home and speak to his mother, who lives with his brother," she said.
She agreed that he might have taken a ride with others to go to Hathras, since he did not have a vehicle of his own in Delhi. "All he wanted was to go to report the story urgently. He would not have checked who gave him the ride. He must get justice."
Raihanath had given a petition to Congress leader and Member of Parliament (MP) from Wayanad Rahul Gandhi when he visited Kerala last month. "He and Priyanka Gandhi said they will look into it. The Chief Minister must also intervene. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) is supporting me. The case will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 16. I have faith in the Supreme Court, that it will stand for the truth. And the truth is that my husband is innocent."
Sidhique has been working in Delhi for many years, at first as a correspondent of Thejus Daily and later reporting for Thalsamayam, a daily, and Azhimukham, an online portal. It was as a reporter of Azhimukham that he went to report the Hathras story. The family fears that there is a political agenda behind his arrest. "It is unjust to use media persons for this sort of politics and communal interests. In a democracy like India, there are media organisations with different perspectives. They should be allowed to work independently," said Raihanath.
Watch: Kerala journalists protest the arrest of Sidhique Kappen in UP