The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent, nonprofit organisation that promotes press freedom worldwide, welcomed the decision by a court in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district to drop a breach of peace charge against Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, and urged authorities to drop all other charges against him and release him immediately.
“The Mathura court’s decision to drop the breach of peace charge against Indian journalist Siddique Kappan suggests that police officers’ accusations about him were bogus from the start,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C.
“The Uttar Pradesh government should do the right thing by withdrawing all the remaining charges and setting Kappan free at once,” he added.
The Mathura court on 16 June dropped the breach of peace charge, which police had originally filed following Kappan’s arrest in October 2020. The court noted that police failed to complete their investigation into the charge within six months, as required by law.
Kappan and three Muslim youths were arrested on 5 October last year when they were on their way to report on the gangrape and death of a Dalit teenager in Uttar Pradesh.
They were arrested on the “apprehension of causing a breach of peace” but were later slapped with stringent charges of sedition and violation of the anti-terror law UAPA and Information Technology Act.
Two days ago, on 18 June, mother of Kappan passed away.
90-year-old Khadeeja Kutty, while she was hospitalised earlier this year, had expressed her last wish as being able to meet her son. In February, the Supreme Court granted Kappan five days’ bail to see her.