Siddique Kappan’s arrest: NHRC seeks report from district magistrate, police superintendent

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice and sought Action Taken Report (ATR) from Uttar Pradesh authorities in the case of Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan’s arrest.

The commission has sent notices to the District Magistrate of Hathras and the Superintendent of Police in the district, asking them to send the Action Taken Report with regard to the incident within four weeks.

The move comes on the complaint filed by rights group National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO) to the NHRC chairperson on 22 October.

Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan has been under custody under draconian UAPA charges since his arrest on 5 October by the Uttar Pradesh police while he was on his way to report the Hathras rape case.

Kappan, secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists Delhi Unit has been working for several Malayalam media houses including azhimukham.com.

“As mentioned in the complaint, the victim, Siddique Kappan is Journalist and general Secretary of Kerala Journalist Union of State. The victim went to Hathras for cover Hathras issue. But Hathras police detained him. He informed some of his friends through SMS and voice call on Whatsapp. After detention police take his mobile phone also. Police detained him in toll plaza police post on the highway of Hathras. Transmit a copy of the complaint to the concerned authority calling for a report within four weeks. In case, the report is not received within the stipulated time, the Commission shall be constrained to invoke coercive process u/s 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for personal appearance of the concerned authority,” reads the letter sent by NHRC.

Following Kappan’s arrest, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists(KUWJ) filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s custody. The journalist’s body argued that the arrest was illegal and unconstitutional.

Journalist unions, political leaders, and national and international rights organizations released statements condemning the arrest of Kappan and demanded his immediate release.

Kappan and other three Muslim youths including Campus Front of India leader, Jamia Millia Islamia student and a Delhi based cab driver were charged under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (for promoting enmity between groups) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, sections 14 and 17 of UAPA, and sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act. Later they were also named in the Hathras conspiracy case.