Siddique Kappan, the Kerala-based journalist who was arrested in October 2020 while he was covering the Hathras gang-rape case in Uttar Pradesh, tested positive for Covid-19. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking his transfer from Mathura to a hospital in New Delhi hospital for treatment, Live Law reported.
Kappan, who has been in custody in a jail in Mathura, had collapsed in the bathroom and sustained serious injuries. He later tested positive for the virus.
Citing Kappan’s serious health conditions, the plea filed by the KUWJ stated: “It is reliably believed that more than 50 inmates of Mathura Jail are suffering from Covid-19… and even drinking water from the toilet, seriously affecting hygiene, health, all leading to a major disaster in the making. In short, as of today, the life of Mr Sidhique Kappan is in danger.”
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 was arrested in October 2020 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 three other alleged PFI members were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 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”.
Earlier in the month, the KUWJ urged the Supreme Court for an independent inquiry by a retired judge to determine Kappan’s alleged “illegal arrest and detention” while claiming that the Uttar Pradesh Police had made an “absolute false and incorrect statement” of Kappan being a secretary of the PFI.