Kerala Journo Siddique Kappan Released After 2 Years

Guwahati: Journalist Siddique Kappan was released on Thursday from the Lucknow district jail in Uttar Pradesh, where he had been detained for more than two years following his detention on charges related to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Kappan, who was detained by Uttar Pradesh police on October 5, 2020 for travelling to Hathras to report on the Hathras rape case has been imprisoned since that date. More than five weeks after Kappan was granted bail in the PMLA case brought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a special Sessions Court in Lucknow signed an order releasing him on Thursday.

The journalist was arrested at the Mathura toll plaza by the Uttar Pradesh police on allegations of UAPA for inciting violence in the case of the suspected rape of a young woman, whose death caused protests across the nation. Three other people were also detained alongside the journalist. Later, he was arrested in connection with additional crimes, notably the ED’s PMLA case.

Kappan, who is from the Keralan city of Malappuram, was working in Delhi and in route to Hathras when he was arrested.

Soon after his release said, “I have come out of jail after 28 months. I want to thank the media for supporting me. False allegations were put against me. I am happy to be out now.”

Congress leader P Chidambaram tweeted in favour of the journalist claiming Article 21 (freedom of expression) has triumphed. In his tweet, he said, “I am glad that eventually Article 21 of the Constitution has triumphed and Siddique Kappan, the journalist from Kerala, is free. Trial Court judges must push back on the demand for judicial custody which is really pre-trial incarceration.”

Justice Dinesh Kumar of the Lucknow branch of the Allahabad High Court granted Kappan bail on December 23, 2022 in the money laundering case brought by the Directorate of Enforcement against him.

It took more than a month for Siddique Kappan to leave the Lucknow jail because of the winter break and a drawn-out process of surety verification.

Previously, the Supreme Court released Kappan on bail on September 9, 2022. The petitioner would be released on bail in the following three days after making a bail application in the trial court, according to the top court’s order, which was issued by the then Chief Justice UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, and Justice PS Narasimha.

The journalist is charged with instigating violence in the Hathras case and having ties to the Popular Front of India (PFI), a group that the Centre has outlawed.

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