Indian journalist Siddique Kappan released from jail after two years

February 02, 2023
Siddique Kappan was arrested while traveling in Uttar Pradesh state in 2020
Siddique Kappan was arrested while traveling in Uttar Pradesh state in 2020

NEW DELHI — Indian journalist Siddique Kappan has been released from prison more than two years after his arrest while traveling to report on an alleged rape.

He was arrested in October 2020 in Uttar Pradesh state, where a young Dalit woman had died after she was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men.

The case had sparked protests in India.

Police accused Kappan of conspiring to create law and order trouble and incite violence, which he denied.

Three men who were in the car with him that day were accused of similar offenses.

Kappan, who had two cases against him, was given bail in one by India's Supreme Court in September. The Allahabad high court granted him bail in the second case in December.

But it took more than a month after that for him to be released due to procedural delays.

On Thursday, after Kappan walked out of the prison in Lucknow city, he said he would continue to fight the charges against him.

"I will also continue to do journalism. I will not sit idle... After all, I am a journalist where can I run?" he told BBC Hindi's Anant Zanane.

Kappan, who is from Kerala state, was working at Malayalam-language news portal Azhimukham when he was arrested on his way to Hathras district in Uttar Pradesh.

After his arrest, he accused the police of physically and mentally torturing him. His family also alleged that authorities did not give him access to his medicines for diabetes.

The police denied the allegations.

They have claimed that Kappan and his companions were members of the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Kerala-based group that was banned last year for alleged links with terror groups. The PFI, Kappan's lawyer and a Kerala-based journalist union he belonged to have denied this.

Kappan's lawyer told the BBC in 2021 that his client was initially charged with "minor bailable offenses".

But two days later, the police added other charges including sedition and provisions under a stringent anti-terror law which critics say makes it almost impossible to get bail.

In February 2021, the Enforcement Directorate, which investigates financial crimes, filed another case against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. The central agency said that Kappan received money from PFI to "incite riots", a charge he denied. — BBC

February 02, 2023
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