Siddique Kappan, the Kerala-based journalist who was arrested in October 2020 while he was covering the Hathras gang-rape case in Uttar Pradesh, has moved the Mathura District Court applying for regular bail, Live Law reported.
Kappan’s bail plea referred to the Supreme Court judgement granting him the liberty to seek regular bail. The plea said that keeping him in jail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is “nothing but a misuse of its provisions, more particularly when there is no iota of evidence or recovery against the accused even in the charge sheet.”
“Just for the reason the applicant was seen in the company of some people belonging to Popular Front of India, cannot be a ground for arrest, and refusing bail, more particularly when the applicant is a journalist by profession, and being a journalist, he is bound to go and travel with all kind of people from all walks of life focusing on journalistic duties (sic),” the bail plea further stated.
On September 14, 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly gang-raped and brutally assaulted by four upper-caste men in Hathras. She succumbed to her injuries on September 29, 2020 in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, which triggered massive outrage and protests across the country. She was hurriedly cremated by the Uttar Pradesh Police in the dead of the night the following day near her village. The rushed manner of the victim’s last rites, which her family alleged was done without their consent, caught the nation’s attention.
Kappan, who has been in custody in a jail in Mathura, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police for his alleged involvement with the Popular Front of India (PFI). He was reportedly found with material that would “breach peace” in the state and instigate violence. Kappan and other alleged PFI members were booked under the UAPA and other serious charges.
The Enforcement Directorate had filed a chargesheet in February accusing the PFI members of money laundering and claimed that they wanted to “incite communal riots and spread terror.”
Recently, in April, Kappan had collapsed in the bathroom due to weakness and sustained serious injuries. He later tested positive for Covid-19. He was admitted to a Mathura hospital where he was “chained like an animal to a cot of the Medical College Hospital, Mathura, without mobility” and was unable to eat or visit the bathroom for over the four days besides being very critical, Kappan’s wife had claimed in a plea seeking his transfer to a hospital in New Delhi.
While ordering Kappan’s transfer to AIIMS, Ram Manohar Lohia hospital or any other good hospital in New Delhi, the court had mentioned that “after his treatment, he may be taken to approach the relevant court.”
After his transfer to AIIMS Delhi, Kappan was under treatment from April 30 but none of his family members nor his lawyer were informed of his medical condition or treatment until May 7, the bail application mentioned.