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New Delhi: The Allahabad high court on Tuesday, August 2, reserved its verdict on journalist Siddique Kappan’s plea for bail.
Arguments concluded before Justice Krishna Pahal of the Lucknow bench of the high court today. Senior advocate I.B. Singh, assisted by Ishan Baghel, argued on behalf of Kappan.
Kappan, who wrote for Malayalam-language publications, was arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police on October 5, 2020, while in his way to Hathras to cover the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit teenager. He had not covered the story yet when he was held, along with others he was travelling with.
He has been in jail ever since and has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He was later slapped with charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy, funding of terror activities and other offences by Uttar Pradesh Police.
In July 2021, Kappan’s bail plea was rejected by the sessions court at Mathura. On February 21, 2022, another bail application was admitted by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court.
Kappan’s prolonged incarceration and the trials faced by his family during it have led to global condemnation and is often noted as a marker of India’s declining press freedom.
Last year, Kappan, while in jail, had tested positive for COVID-19, which caused his health to seriously decline. The Supreme Court had then directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift him to a government hospital in Delhi for treatment.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also written to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for his intervention.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists, which has advocated for Kappan, has repeatedly alleged that the journalist has been jailed under inhuman conditions. As early as December 2020, it has said Kappan had been “beaten thrice and subjected to mental torture during custody”.