Lok Sabha member from Kollam constituency and senior UDF leader N.K Premachandran alleged that there was a larger conspiracy behind the arrest of the Malayali journalist Siddique Kappan who was arbitrarily picked by Uttar Pradesh police under draconian UAPA in Hathras conspiracy case.
In his speech, four-time parliamentarian Premachandran extended solidarity to wife and kids of Kappan who were protesting in front of Secretariat in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, seeking Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s urgent intervention to get Kappan released.
Premachandran demanded an urgent intervention from Kerala government in the case, claiming that the arrest was politically motivated.
“I want the Kerala Chief Minister to intervene, to talk to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and pave the way for my husband’s release,” Kappan’s wife Raihatnath said.
“Kappan’s mother is bed-ridden. The 90 year old woman cries to see her son whenever she is awake. I don’t have any words to console her. Our lawyers are trying to get permission for a video conference with her. We somehow need to show her Siddique Kappan,” she said.
Raihanath alleged that her husband was tortured by the Uttar Pradesh police and asked why Rahul Gandhi visited her house and whether Kappan eats beef.
“They also asked why Rahul Gandhi visited our house and whether Kappan eats beef. They accused him of having assets worth ₹100 crore. But just see our house and everyone will understand how much we have,” she said in the speech.
Raihanath also alleged that her husband was asked to name any CPI(M) leaders in order to escape from his ordeal.
“They tortured him while he was arrested. They tortured him saying he is a Keralite. Kappan told me us that the UP police asked him to name some CPI(M) leaders so that he can escape from the orderal,” she told media.
Brothers of Kappan, senior Congress leader Lathika Subhash, Kerala Union of Working Journalists state president K.P Reji, Welfare Party Thiruvananthapuram president M.N. Ansari, Students Islamic Organisation of Inda (SIO) state general secretary Anwar Salahuddin, musician A.S Ajith Kumar, Minority Rights Watch general secretary A.M Nadvi, Campus Front state secretary C.P Ajmal, Bhim Army district president Ranjini Subhash, Women Justice Movement state secretary Mumthas Beegum, poet Shameena Beegum, Siddique Kappan Solidarity Committee leaders Sreeja Neyyattinkara and Ambika, NCHRO state president Vilayodi Shivankutti and national secretary Reny Alyine joined sit-in protest and extended their solidarity to Kappan and family.
Malayalam freelance journalist Siddique Kappan is being held in pretrial detention on a variety of anti-state, incitement, and terrorism allegations. Uttar Pradesh police arrested Kappan on October 5, 2020, and held him incommunicado for 48 hours before formally opening an investigation.
Kappan, a freelance reporter who has covered politics, crime, and current affairs for Malayalam-language news outlets including Azhimukham, Thejus Daily and Thalsamayam Midday Daily, is also the secretary of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists.
On October 5, at a toll plaza at the entrance to the city of Mathura in UP, police arrested Kappan and three Muslim youths with whom he was traveling. Kappan was on his way from New Delhi to Hathras to cover the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit woman that had sparked nationwide protests against.
Kappan and other three were charged under draconian UAPA and sedition by UP police.
The next day, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) filed a habeas corpus petition to the Supreme Court after Kappan’s family and colleagues were not informed of his whereabouts. Supreme Court rejected a bail application by KUWJ, and told them to submit it to a lower court.
In early November, KUWJ filed a new petition with the Supreme Court requesting its intervention. UP government claimed in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court that Kappan was a member of the Popular Front of India, a Muslim organization and alleged that the police found “incriminating material” in Kappan’s possession including protest leaflets, but did not provide any evidence to prove wrongdoing.
Kappan was beaten thrice and subjected to mental torture during custody, alleged KUWJ in its rejoinder affidavit before the Supreme Court.
Affidavit said Kappan’s lawyer Wills Mathew visited Mathura Jail on 21 November for 30 minutes and had a conference with Kappan and “was shocked to hear that Mr. Kappan was beaten with lathi three times on his thigh, slapped three times after taking out spectacles, dragged, forced to stay awake from 6pm to 6am depriving him of the sleep, without proper medicines, along with serious mental torture from 5.10.2020 to 6.10.2020.”