“Half-Baked Justice”: Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan Leaves UP Jail

Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala who was held in custody for more than two years without a trial, was released today

Siddique Kappan
Siddique Kappan

Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala who was held in custody for more than two years without a trial, was released today. During his reporting on the alleged rape of a young woman whose death sparked nationwide protests in 2020, he was in jail for over a month after getting bail.

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“This is half-baked justice. Journalism is not a crime. I’ll keep fighting against draconian laws. They kept me in jail 28 months after I got bail… I don’t know who’s benefiting from my jail time.” The two years were tough for him, but he wasn’t afraid,” he told NDTV after his release.

Mr Kappan was supposed to walk out last night, but the judge of a special court that hears money laundering cases was busy with a bar council election.

When he was on his way to report on the alleged gang rape and death of a 20-year-old Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh, he was arrested, triggering protests across the country. According to the police, he was going there to stir up trouble.

She died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after allegedly being gang-raped. Yogi Adityanath’s government has been condemned for cremating her in the middle of the night in her village, sparking accusations of a cover-up.

Kappan was charged under the tough anti-terror law UAPA with sedition. The Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against him in February 2022, saying he got money from the banned People’s Front of India.

In September last year, the Supreme Court granted him bail after observing that no formal charges were filed against him and a document recovered by the state police only called for justice.

Three months later, he got bail for the money laundering case. Several bureaucratic hiccups held up his release.

Civil society groups and the opposition have condemned Mr Kappan’s arrest as an attempt by the BJP government to muzzle media coverage of the Hathras incident.

The police say the journalist and others arrested with him are members of the banned Popular Front of India and its student wing, the Campus Front of India. Kappan denies any involvement in terror acts or financing. For journalistic work, he was on his way to Hathras.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took charge in 2014, India has slipped 10 places on Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom ranking. According to the international organization, nine more journalists are in prison.

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