New Delhi: A plea by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists – six days ago – seeking five days’ interim bail for journalist Siddique Kappan so that he can see his seriously ailing mother a final time is yet to be listed for hearing at the Supreme Court. Kappan’s family has said his mother is on her deathbed.
Citing the deteriorating health conditions of Kappan’s mother, the KUWJ had approached the Supreme Court for interim bail for the journalist on Friday, January 29. A day ago, Kappan had been allowed to make a video call to his family at Kerala’s Malappuram from jail. However, he could not speak to his mother as she was unconscious at the time.
Confirming that an application has been moved for interim bail, Kappan’s lawyer Wills Mathew told The Wire that the matter is yet to be listed for hearing. Mathew said, on Tuesday, February 2, the KUWJ also wrote to the Registrar General of the Supreme Court of India, requesting that the matter be listed for hearing on Wednesday.
“We are hoping that it will be heard on Thursday,” added Mathew.
Kappan, a Delhi-based journalist who reported for Malayalam portals and the secretary of the KUWJ’s Delhi unit, was arrested along with three others at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh in October 2020. Kappan was on his way to cover the Hathras atrocity when he was held.
He, along with others, were later booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and charges of sedition. In December, the KUWJ had claimed that Kappan had been “beaten thrice and subjected to mental torture during custody”.
In the letter to the Registrar, the KUWJ wrote that Kappan’s mother is no longer able to identify him in a video call.
“The Mother is not in a healthy condition to identify her son or to talk to her son via video conference. An application dated 29.01.2021 vide I.A 13346/21 was filed for interim bail of 5 days, which is pending. There is extreme urgency in this matter due to the deteriorating health condition of Mother,” read the letter to the Registrar.
Kappan’s mother is 90 years old and his family has said that she is on her deathbed. The letter also says that doctors have said that her days are limited and that she is mostly unconscious or semi-conscious. She had earlier expressed to her daughter-in-law Raihanath that it is her dying wish to see her son.
“We tried our best to wake her up so she could see her son. But her condition was so bad that she didn’t even realise her son was at the other end of the video call,” Kappan’s wife Raihanath told The Telegraph on Saturday.
According to the medical certificate accessed by The Wire and which is part of the interim bail petition, Kappan’s mother Kadeeja Kutty had been admitted at the VMC Hospital. “She has uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, reduced food intake, severe weakness and generalised debility. Her response to verbal commands is poor and motor movements weak (GCS 8). She is on IV fluids, antibiotics, insulin and supportive care,” read the certificate signed Dr. Sureshkumar P. of the hospital, dated January 23.
According to The Telegraph she was discharged on January 29 — still unconscious and without any improvement in her health — after the doctors said there was little they could do for her any more. “Our only hope is that the court will allow interim bail to Siddique to be with his mother for at least a few days,” Kappan’s wife Raihanath told the newspaper.
In today’s Washington Post, readers will find a full-page print advertisement from the Press Freedom Partnership highlighting February’s 10 most pressing cases of journalists under attack, as identified by @OneFreePress, a Post press freedom partner. pic.twitter.com/hhlo6n7LnS
— The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership (@wppressfreedom) February 1, 2021
Meanwhile, global media collective The One Free Press Coalition has named Kappan in the “10 Most Urgent” list of press freedom abuses around the world.
On February 1, a full-page print advertisement from the Press Freedom Partnership highlighting February’s most pressing cases of journalists under attack, as identified by One Free Press, was published in The Washington Post.