‘Deeply Disturbed’: Editors Guild on Treatment of Siddique Kappan
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has endorsed the EGI statement and extended his support to Kappan’s family.
The Editor’s Guild of India (EGI) on Monday, 26 April, said that it was “deeply disturbed” by the reports of the “inhuman treatment being meted out to journalist Siddique Kappan” who has been in jail since October 2020, and has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Meanwhile Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has endorsed the EGI statement and extended his support to Siddique Kappan’s family.
Kappan was arrested and jailed while trying to report on the rape and death of a Dalit girl in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.
The statement by the EGI comes after Kappan’s wife alleged that her husband has been tied to a bed and is neither able to take food nor access the toilet while undergoing treatment at a Mathura Hospital for COVID-19.
“This is shocking and should stir the conscience of the nation that a journalist is being treated in this cruel manner and being denied basic rights. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Ajay Mohan Bisht, (Yogi Adityanath), has been ignoring the demands from his family and the civil society for fair treatment of the journalist,” the EGI said.
‘Shocking That Supreme Court Hasn’t Intervened’
The EGI expressed shock that the Supreme Court had not intervened and acted upon the matter despite a Habeas Corpus petition challenging his arrest that has been pending before the court for the past six months.
“It is further shocking that the Supreme Court of India has yet not intervened in this case to ensure a fair trial of the journalist, even though the Habeas Corpus petition challenging his arrest has been pending before the court for the past six months. All of this goes against the basic canons of a Constitutional democracy, where independent journalistic enterprises need to be protected rather than repressed,” it added.
The EGI further said that it had written to Yogi Adityanath in November last year, highlighting several instances of state persecution and violence against journalists, including that of Kappan, adding that “since then, the situation has only worsened”.
“EGI demands that Siddique Kappan be given proper medical treatment at the earliest and that he be treated with dignity. The Guild also urges the Supreme Court to urgently take up the pending writ petition and give him a fair trial,” it said in the statement.
EGI Slams UP CM Over Order To Seize Property Over Oxygen ‘Rumours’
The EGI also slammed the Yogi Adityanath government’s recent orders to invoke the National Security Act (NSA) and seize the property of anyone who spreads “rumors” and propaganda on social media amid a shortage of oxygen in the hospitals across the state.
“Recently, the CM threatened to seize the property of anyone who reported on the paucity of oxygen in hospitals in the state. Such declamations have a chilling effect on media freedom, at a time when there is an urgent need for objective reporting and accountability on the worsening pandemic,” it said.
Yogi Adityanath has asserted that there was no shortage of oxygen supply in any COVID-19 hospital.
‘Stop the Crime, Not the Reportage’: Rahul Gandhi Endorses EGI Statement
Endorsing the Editor’s Guild of India’s press statement, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in a Facebook post, said:
“I extend my support to the family of Siddique Kappan. He deserves full protection and medical support. RSS-BJP show their lack of courage by shooting the messenger! Stop the crime, not the reportage.”
Earlier, on Sunday, 25 April, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, asking him to take measures to provide expert treatment facilities for the journalist.
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