A Mathura court on Tuesday, 6 July, rejected the bail petition of Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who had been charged for offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Additional Sessions Judge Anil Kumar Pandey said that the investigation into the case had revealed implicating evidence against Kappan, which suggested that the journalist had received sponsorship from foreign entities for the purpose of blemishing the integrity of the country, The Hindu reported.
During the hearing, the court further said that while the petitioner had identified himself as a journalist, the identity card he had carried indicated that he belonged to a news agency that had been shut three years ago, in 2018.
Judge Pandey noted that taking view of the implicative evidence gathered, the court did not consider it fit to grant bail to the journalist.
What is the Case?
The Uttar Pradesh police had arrested Kappan, along with three others, in October 2020, while they were en route to Hathras.
He was travelling to cover the alleged gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman that had, at the time, stirred the conscience of the entire nation.
When UP Police intercepted a car that had Kappan, Masood, Atiq-ur-Rehman and their driver Alam and arrested them, they were not charged with UAPA and sedition. The men had been charged under a different FIR and the allegation placed against them was their entry into west UP’s Hathras, which constituted an 'apprehension of breach of peace'.
After the men were sent to jail, a second FIR was registered with sections of UAPA, sedition the next day. The police said on the basis of a primary investigation in the first FIR there was a criminal conspiracy being hatched to destabilise peace and break law and order in Hathras.
The police claimed that Kappan was going to Hathras with a "very determined design to create caste divide and disturb the law and order situation" and that he had links with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
On 15 June 2021, a Mathura Court had dropped proceedings against Kappan and three other co-accused in the first FIR that had been registered against them on 5 October, which had contained the allegation of 'apprehension of breach of peace.'
The charges of the second FIR, which had booked the journalist under UAPA and sedition, remained in place.
On 1 June, the Kerala-based journalist had moved a bail application before the Mathura District Court emphasising that there was nothing connecting him to the alleged offences other than the allegations made against him.
The bail plea had said, “The facts stated in the FIR are fabricated, concocted, and manipulated. The foundation of this FIR is ‘media reports’ as evident from the contents of the FIR itself,” Bar & Bench reported.
Kappan's mother, Khadeeja Kutty, had passed away on 18 June this year, while he was in detention.
(With inputs from The Hindu and Bar and Bench)