The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately release journalist Siddique Kappan who was arrested by UP police under anti-terror laws while traveling from the capital Delhi to Hathras to report on the story of rape and murder of a Dalit woman.
“Police in Uttar Pradesh must stop obstructing journalists from reporting on a matter of national importance,” said CPJ’s senior Asia researcher, Aliya Iftikhar. “Authorities should immediate release Siddique Kappan and allow him to do his job.”
Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan and leaders of Campus Front of India (CFI), a student wing of Popular Front of India who were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on Monday in Mathura while on their way to Hathras have been booked under provisions of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sedition. All four were remanded to 14 days’ judicial custody by a local court in Mathura.
Siddique Kappan, secretary of KUWJ Delhi unit and a senior Delhi-based journalist working for several Malayalam media houses including azhimukham.com, had gone to Hathras on Tuesday morning to report.
According to K.N. Ashok, editor of Malayalam-language news website Azhimukham where Kappan is a regular contributor, Kappan was travelling to Hathras to cover the alleged gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by upper-caste Hindu men that has sparked protests and national outrage.
On Tuesday, the Press Club of India (PCI) in its statement demanding Kappan’s immediate release, had said, “In these circumstances our worry is that UP Police may not fight shy of using anti-terrorism provisions with which to charge the Kerala journalist.”
On Tuesday, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, in a letter to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has demanded the release of Kappan, saying he was trying to perform his duty as a reporter.
K. P Reji, president of the KUWJ state committee Thiruvananthapuram, also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for Kappan’s immediate release.