Eight months after the Uttar Pradesh police arrested Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan and three others allegedly linked to Popular Front of India (PFI), a court in the state has dropped charges related to apprehension of breach of peace finding that the police failed to complete the investigation within the prescribed period of six months, the defence counsel said.
Sub Divisional Magistrate of Mant, Ram Datt Ram, on Tuesday discharged accused Atikurrahman, Aalam, journalist Siddique Kappan and Masood, of the charges under Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) sections 151(Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences), 107(Security for keeping the peace in other cases) and 116 (Inquiry as to truth of information), defence counsel Madhuban Datt Chaturvedi said. As the limitation for completing proceedings under section 116 (6) CrPC has expired, the proceedings against the four accused are dropped, the order of the magistrate said.
The accused were arrested by the Maan police under these charges on October 5, 2020 while they were on the way to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras, who was allegedly gangraped by dominant case men, and later succumbed to her injuries. The initial arrests were under the apprehension of causing a breach of peace but were later slapped with stringent charges of sedition and violation of anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Information Technology Act.
The accused have been in jail since October 7 last year. They have been booked under sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups...), 295A (outraging religious feelings), 124A (sedition), 120B (conspiracy) of IPC, section 17 (Punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 18 ( Punishment for conspiracy) of UAPA and under the IT Act. The police arrested the four accused and alleged that they intended to stoke unrest in Hathras.
Siddique Kappan’s family and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) have said that the accusations against him were ‘false and frivolous’ and that he had only gone to Hathras to report the incident. In April this year, his family had moved the Supreme Court alleging he was being mistreated in a hospital in Uttar Pradesh, where he was admitted for COVID-19 treatment. He was chained to the hospital bed without permission to use the toilet, his wife Raihanath had alleged. Later, the SC sought an explanation about this to the UP police.
(With PTI inputs)