The Uttar Pradesh government, on Friday, submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court opposing the habeas corpus plea filed for the release of Delhi-based Malayali journo Siddique Kappan, stating that their investigations had found that he was linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI) and that he used an old identity card to pose as a journalist to gain entry into Hathras. The UP government, however, submitted to the Supreme Court that it has no objection to arrested journalist Siddique Kappan meeting his lawyer while in jail. Siddique and three others were arrested on October 5 while they were on their way to Hathras to cover the 19-year-old Dalit woman’s alleged gangrape and subsequent death.
In its counter-affidavit, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Uttar Pradesh government, said that Siddique and the three men were heading to Hathras with a “determined design to create a caste divide” and “disturb the law and order situation."
“The person in custody namely Siddique Kappan is the Office Secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI) using a journalist cover by showing identity card of a Kerala based newspaper named as ‘Tejas’, which was closed in 2018,” the government said in its affidavit. In an earlier interview to TNM, Siddique’s wife had said that her husband used to work for Thejas.
The UP government also stated that “incriminating materials" were seized from the journalist. Allegedly that Siddique’s flatmate is also a member of PFI, the SG argued that the evidence against him indicated that he has links with “banned organisations”.
The UP government added that when he was brought by Special Task Force to Delhi, he “misled the police by giving wrong residential address which was found invalid. He did not assist in the investigation and gave misleading details,” the affidavit added.
Siddique Kappan is the Office Secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI) who is using a journalist cover by showing identity card of a Kerela based newspaper named as ‘Tejas’ which was closed in 2018 - State of UP says in the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/GgY5p3mf12— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) November 20, 2020
The SC bench, headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde, on Friday expressed their displeasure over ‘incorrect reporting’ of the proceedings in Supreme Court during Monday’s hearing. The court has given Siddique’s counsel Kapil Sibal time to go through the affidavit filed by the Uttar Pradesh government. The hearing has been deferred by one week.
The habeas corpus petition was filed by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ). Siddique, who freelances for a Malayalam news website Azhimukham, is the Delhi unit secretary of KUWJ.