The wife of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police while on his way to meet Hathras rape victim’s family two weeks ago, staged a sit-in before the Malappuram Collectorate on Saturday seeking her husband’s immediate release.
She said her husband was innocent and only intended to file a report on the incident. She said he was suffering from lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, and that she is really worried about his health. The Uttar Pradesh police were not even allowing lawyers to talk to him over the phone and many new charges were slapped on him, said Rahyanth, the journalist’s wife. She said he is the sole breadwinner of the family which comprises three children and an aged mother besides her.
“I was told three separate cases were registered against him including sedition. A day before his arrest, he called me to say he was planning to go to Hathras to meet the victim’s family to file a report. We came to know about his arrest from the media. He’s innocent and there is no case history against him either,” said Rahyanth. Kappan hails from Vengara in Malappuram and was working in Delhi for the last six years. He is associated with a Malayalam news portal.
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Though many leaders, including Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and media bodies have sought his release, the UP government has been keeping silence, she said, adding the way he was produced before the court was a heart-rending scene. “Now they are saying he was associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI) and planning caste trouble in UP. These are all trumped-up charges meant to distract attention from the real issue,” she said.
Earlier, Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had fielded a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court but the latter had asked it to approach the Allahabad High Court. The KUWJ is expected to move the HC next week. The UP police maintains that he was arrested with three other Popular Front of India workers and that they were planning to whip up caste trouble in the state. Family members, however, have denied these charges.
“More than two weeks passed since his arrest. We are totally in the dark and worried about his health. He is the sole bread-earner, the family is in deep trouble. We appeal the UP chief minister to release him,” said Rahyanth, adding they don’t have enough money to seek legal assistance.
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