Have Faith in Constitution: Siddique Kappan at First Press Address

On 15 June, Mathura Court dropped proceedings against 4 accused in the non-UAPA case registered against them.

3 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

“Justice chahiye. Mujhe abhi bhi hamare samwidhaan mein bharosa hai, (Want Justice. I still have faith in the Constitution),” said Kerala journalist and UAPA accused Siddique Kappan, as he was escorted out of a Mathura Court in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, 15 June.

On Tuesday, the Mathura Court dropped proceedings against Kappan and three other co-accused in the first FIR that had been registered against them on 5 October. It is important to clarify that this is not the FIR where the police has charged them under sections of UAPA, sedition etc, but the one registered a day before for the apprehension for breach of peace.

“But this is a fake case. Justice delayed, justice delayed,” Kappan added, right before entering the police van that would presumably take him right back to custody.

This was just the first time Kappan was able to address the media, since he and three others were arrested in October 2020, while en route to Hathras to cover the alleged gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman that had, at the time, stirred the conscience of the entire nation.

Let’s call the first FIR the 5 October case.

More About the 5 October FIR

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. They were 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, as they had several pamphlets that called for Justice for the Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped and murdered.

“The police said their presence was a threat to the peace and tranquility of the area,” advocate Madhuvan Dutt Chaturvedi, who is appearing for the three accused (other than Kappan) told this reporter.

The case was thereafter registered under sections 151 (Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences), 107 (Security for keeping the peace in other cases), and 116 (Inquiry as to truth of information) of the CrPC and the accused were sent to jail.

“After they 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,” Dutt said.

“The police filed charges, we as their lawyers denied it. After that the police did absolutely nothing to provide evidence to court to show that there was any basis to them being a threat to peace in the area. What would happen is that every two weeks the remand would be extended, and the magistrate would allow for it without much thought. The fact is that since the police already had them arrested under the FIR with more severe sections, they did not care about the FIR registered on 5 October,” Dutt explained.

The lawyers then moved the court as the police is supposed to end their investigation into a logical conclusion within six months. “They did nothing, no charge sheets, no evidence provided, nothing,” Dutt said.

Considering that the police had failed to complete the probe within the prescribed period of six months as fixed under Section 116(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc), Sub Divisional Magistrate Ram Datt Ram dropped the proceedings on Tuesday.


Background of Their Arrest on 5 October 2020

The Uttar Pradesh police had in October 2020 arrested Kappan, Atiq-ur Rahman, Masood Ahmed, and Alam, while they were en route to Hathras.

They had 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).

Another accused in the case too addressed the media, while being rushed into the police vehicle, flanked by cops, saying:

“We have no connection with the case. We are being trapped. This is Yogi (Adityanath) government’s dictatorship.”

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) and Kappan’s wife have been fighting for his release since October 2020, iterating and reiterating assertions of his innocence.

Kappan had tested positive for COVID in April. He was first admitted to a Mathura hospital, but post his family and KUWJ’s allegations at the Supreme Court of the journalist being chained to a hospital bed, he was shifted to AIIMS Delhi. Soon after, he was discharged from AIIMS and shifted back to to Mathura Central Jail without informing his lawyer or his family.

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