New Delhi: Eight hundred and fifty days after he was arrested, a month after he was granted bail and a day after a court signed orders to release him, journalist Siddique Kappan walked free on Thursday, February 2.
“I will continue my fight against draconian laws. They kept me in jail even after I got bail. I don’t know who’s benefiting from my being in jail. These two years were very tough, but I was never afraid,” Kappan told NDTV after walking out.
The Malayalam language journalist was arrested in October 2020 while on his way to report on the gang-rape case in Hathras of Uttar Pradesh, where a Dalit teenager was allegedly gang-raped and injured by four ‘upper’ caste men. The young girl died eventually.
Kappan’s trials in jail – especially as he sought life-saving treatment during the pandemic – had invoked stern statements from journalists’ bodies and rights organisations the world over.
On September 9, 2022, the Supreme Court had granted him bail in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case, saying that “every citizen has the right to free expression”. However, he remained in jail in Lucknow in the money laundering case, which was slapped against him by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021. He got bail in this case in late December, 2022.
In response to the Supreme Court’s order, the UP government had opposed his bail alleging that he has “deep links” with the Popular Front of India, which at the time of his arrest was not a banned organisation.
Kappan was booked under Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (for promoting enmity between groups) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 14 and 17 of UAPA, Sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act.