The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemned the arrest of journalist Siddique Kappan and urged the Uttar Pradesh government to release him and withdraw all the charges.
Siddique Kappan, senior Delhi-based journalist was arrested on 5 October, a day after he was stopped on the way to Hathras, the home town of the Dalit woman who died after being gang raped by upper-caste Hindu men.
The First Information Report (FIR) filed against Kappan and three others including leaders of students organization Campus Front of India shows that they have been booked under charges including draconian UAPA and sedition.
“Filing a FIR against journalist Kappan clearly shows that the UP government does not tolerate any news that is critical of the government. It is also indicative of the lengths the UP government will go to silence the independent voices and the media,” International Federation of Journalists said in the statement.
“As the public rage and protests mounted, following her violent death , the UP government labelled the public rage as a conspiracy to stir riots along caste lines and as an effort to defame the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s led Uttar Pradesh government. The UP government also accused protestors of disrupting communal harmony,” reads the statement.
IFJ’s Indian affiliates the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) and National Union of Journalists – India (NUJ-I) also demanded Kappan’s release.
The IJU Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit said that Yogi Adityanath’s government is brazenly indulging in undeclared censorship of the media.
“The harassment, intimidation of journalists and gagging of truth is unacceptable in any democratic society. The IJU urges the UP government desist from such bullying tactics and respect the freedom of the press,” Inderjit added.
The NUJ-I president Ras Bihari stated that before arrest of any journalist, the Press Council of India should be informed.
“The NUJ-I has long been demanding for adoption of such the practice,” it said.