According to journalists’ group KUWJ, over 50 inmates of Mathura prison have COVID-19 and do not have basic amenities, including drinking water.

Journalist Siddique Kappan who is jailed in Mathura prison
news Law Friday, April 23, 2021 - 14:52

Journalist Siddique Kappan, who is lodged in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura prison since October 2020, has been hospitalised after he collapsed in the bathroom and sustained injuries on April 20. The Delhi-based journalist from Kerala also tested positive for coronavirus on April 21. He is currently under treatment at a hospital in Mathura. Following this, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), which has been fighting for Siddique Kappan’s release, filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday, to shift him to All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) or the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi immediately.

Siddique Kappan, a freelance journalist for a Kerala news website, was arrested on October 5, 2020, while he was on his way from Delhi to Hathras, along with three others in a vehicle. He was en route to report on the alleged gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras when he was stopped by the Uttar Pradesh police. The officials seized his mobile phone, laptop and some literature, which they claimed “could disrupt peace.” They accused Siddique of having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI). He has been lodged in the Mathura prison since his arrest.

According to advocate Wills Mathew, who is representing KUWJ, Siddique Kappan has been ill for the past week. In the petition filed in the Supreme Court, KUWJ alleged that over 50 inmates of the Mathura prison have COVID-19. They also alleged that the prison severely lacks basic facilities, including drinking water, so much that they have to drink water from the toilet. “This has been seriously affecting the health and hygiene, which is leading to a major disaster. As of today, Siddique Kappan’s life is in danger for all reasons," said the petition, as reported by Live Law. 

In view of his health condition, the KUWJ has requested the Supreme Court to allow the journalist to be shifted to AIIMS or Safdarjung Hospital for further treatment. According to his family, Siddique Kappan is diabetic and alleged that he was denied medicines in prison.

Siddique Kappan, who has been working in Delhi for several years, used to work for Thejas Daily (a mouthpiece of PFI), later for Thalsamayam (a daily) and then Azhimukham (an online portal). The UP police alleged that Siddique Kappan used his old reporter’s ID to go to Hathras. His family, meanwhile, fears that there is a political agenda behind his arrest.

In April 2021, the UP Special Task Force (STF) filed a chargesheet against Siddique Kappan and three others — Atiq-ur-Rehman; Masood Ahmad and Alam — who are alleged to be PFI activists. They have been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), IT Act and other serious charges. 

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