International Press Institute (IPI) has called for the immediate release of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, and strongly condemned “the unacceptable ill-treatment he has received at the hands of the authorities as well as the apparent deprivation of his basic due process rights.”
“We are extremely concerned that Mr. Kappan was targeted and detained due to his journalistic activity. In the absence of evidence justifying these accusations, all charges against Mr. Kappan must be immediately dropped,” IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said.
Griffen also raised his concerns about the growing targeting of critical journalists in India.
International Press Institute is a global organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of press freedom and the improvement of journalism practices. The institution was founded in Vienna, October 1950, and currently has members in over 120 countries.
“All journalists in the country must be able to safely cover events in the public interest, without fear of harassment, detention or discrimination,” he said.
On October 5 last year, Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan was on his way from Delhi to Hathras, in Uttar Pradesh, to report on the gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman by upper-caste Hindu men. The caste violence had caused protests and public outcry all over the country. But before Kappan could reach his destination, he was arrested and jailed along with other three Muslim youth.
Nine months later, Kappan is still detained under the draconian UAPA and IT Act, awaiting trial. He is charged with promoting enmity between groups, outraging religious feelings, sedition, conspiracy and raising funds for a terrorist act.
He was denied bail on July 6 in the District Court of Mathura.
Kappan who is also the Delhi unit secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), recently lost his mother to prolonged illness. Ninety-year-old Khadeeja Kutty passed away on 18 June in Kerala’s Malappuram district. In February, he was granted five days’ interim bail to meet his mother.
Many including the main Opposition parties, rights groups, journalist bodies and international rights watchdogs urged authorities to drop all charges against Kappan and release him immediately.