US panel says journalists in India jailed for their religious, caste identities

Siddique Kappan has been targeted and detained by the government for reporting on abuses towards Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Sikhs and Adivasis.
“Siddique Kappan, a Muslim journalist known for reporting on religious issues, was arrested on his way to Hathras UP to cover a Dalit rape case that sparked nationwide protests. He was accused of only reporting ‘to incite Muslims,'” tweeted the USCIRF.

A United States panel on World Press Freedom Day said that it stands with journalists in India who have been targeted and detained by the government for reporting on abuses towards Muslims, Christians, Dalits, Sikhs and Adivasis.

The serious allegations about press freedom in India was made by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which is an independent, bipartisan American government agency that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion and makes policy suggestions to the White House.

“Siddique Kappan, a Muslim journalist known for reporting on religious issues, was arrested on his way to Hathras UP to cover a Dalit rape case that sparked nationwide protests. He was accused of only reporting ‘to incite Muslims,'” tweeted the USCIRF.

According to the US panel, Siddique Kappan is unjustly imprisoned on terrorism charges for his religious identity and reporting on religious freedom conditions.

Kappan has been in Uttar Pradesh jail since 5 October in 2020.

The US panel also spoke about Kishor Ram who was arrested after bringing up caste during interviews with the families of Dalits who had been murdered and raped.

“In February 2022, Kishor Ram, a Dalit journalist known for reporting on marginalized classes & lower caste issues, was arrested after bringing up caste during interviews with the families of Dalits who had been murdered and raped,” read a tweet by the USCIRF.

The United States panel last week recommended to the Joe Biden government that it designate India as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in or tolerating systematic violations of religious freedom.

India was among 15 countries flagged by the USCIRF for religious freedom concerns.

This was the third year in a row that it has made such a recommendation.

In its 2022 report, the USCIRF urged the US to impose targeted sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for “severely violations” of religious freedom by freezing their assets and/or stopping them from entering the country.

However, India had called the USCIRF as “an organisation of particular concern.”