Video editor: Purnendu Pritam
"It is late, it is very late – but I am happy that he will finally be out," Raihanath Kappan, wife of incarcerated journalist Siddique Kappan, told The Quint over the phone on Wednesday, 1 February.
The 43-year-old journalist from Kerala's Malappuram district walked out of jail on the morning of Thursday, 2 February, with a Lucknow court signing the order for his release on bail the previous day.
Kappan, who was in jail for nearly two and a half years, was granted bail by the Supreme Court in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case in September 2022 , and later, in December 2022, by the Allahabad High Court in an Enforcement Directorate case.
"It has been four months since he received bail in the UAPA case. But it took so much time for the verification and other processes to be completed. He is finally going to walk out, but our fight is far from over," Raihanath said.
When The Quint spoke to her over the phone, Raihanath and the couple's children were in Lucknow, waiting for Kappan's release from the city jail. Even after his release, the family must stay in Delhi for six weeks before they can return to their home in Kerala, as per the UAPA orders.
"The children are elated. They have been waiting for his release for so long. 'Innu varum, naale varum' (He'll come today, he'll come tomorrow) – this is all they have been thinking of for the past few months."Raihanath Kappan
On Independence Day last year, Kappan's daughter Mehnaz had made a moving speech at her school about the prolonged incarceration of her father.
"I am Mehnaz Kappan. Daughter of journalist Siddique Kappan, a citizen who has been forced into a dark room by breaking all of the freedom of a citizen," she had said.
'First Priority Is His Health'
Raihanath said that once they return to Kerala, the focus would entirely be on getting Kappan back on his feet – health-wise. "This is a man who has been locked up in a jail cell for two and a half years. We need to focus on his health. He has undergone a lot of trauma," she said.
She added that any plans for the case would be made only after he gets better.
Raihanath also recalled how difficult life has been for her and the family all these years.
"We didn't deserve any of this. Kappan, our family, our kids – we all suffered during this period. The person who was supposed to support us financially was put in jail. Only we know how we struggled to pay for the case," she added.
But despite the delay, Raihanath said her belief in the justice system hasn't waned. "I believe in the justice system, and I believe that we will win the case."
"The case, the hearing, the verdict – all these things are still left. But I'm relieved that he will be out and he will be by my side, by my children's side," she told The Quint.
Why Kappan Was Jailed
In October 2020, Kappan, along with three others, were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police while he was on the way to Hathras to cover the gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl.
The allegation levelled against them was that their entry into west UP's Hathras constituted an "apprehension of breach of peace."
After they were sent to jail, a second FIR was registered under sections of the UAPA and sedition. The police said that 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), now a banned outfit.