New Delhi: The Hathras police have named Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan and three others who were arrested by the Mathura police in the conspiracy case that they had registered on October 4 against unknown persons.
Kappan and the three others are lodged in the Mathura Jail after the Mathura police arrested them on October while they were travelling to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman from Hathras who was allegedly gang-raped by four Thakur men. A day later, the four of them were booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The case registered at Chandpa police station of Hathras on October 4 relates to the alleged conspiracy to instigate riots along caste lines and defame the state government over the alleged rape-and-murder case.
According to the Indian Express, the Hathras police claim that their investigation has found that Kappan and CFI members Atiq-ur-Rahman (25), Masood Ahmed (26) and Alam (26) were involved in the conspiracy case.
The CFI is the students’ wing of the Popular Front of India, an organisation that the UP government has sought to be banned for its alleged involvement in the violence during the protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act but which is not a proscribed organisation.
Alam is a taxi driver who works for Ola and also ferries passengers on a free-lance basis and his family say he had nothing to do with the three men who booked his cab for a ride to Hathras.
Hathras SP Vineet Jaiswal told the Indian Express that a local court has issued a warrant for the four of them to be produced in court.
The court order was issued after the investigating officer of the case lodged by Chandpa police filed a report. “We have served production warrant of all four persons to Mathura jail authorities. The case is related to conspiracy to instigate riots,” Chandpa SHO Laxman Singh, investigating officer in the case, told the newspaper.
The Muzaffarnagar police have also booked Atiq-ur-Rahman in a case of violence that occurred during the anti-CAA protests in Kotwali area of the district in December 2019.
Journalists unions, especially in Kerala, have criticised Kappan’s arrest. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) described his arrest as a “clear attack on media freedom”.
The UP police filed 19 FIRs in connection with the Hathras case and the spate of protests that were organised after the Dalit woman’s death. The administration has claimed that there is an “international conspiracy” to defame the Yogi Adityanath government and to create caste tensions.
The UP government has also denied that the woman was raped, citing the medical report. However, this stance has been criticised by many, including the Allahabad high court. While the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over the investigation of the woman’s alleged rape and murder, it has refused to probe the ‘conspiracy’ angle.