The Uttar Pradesh government’s affidavit against Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan has failed to provide any evidence of him committing an illegal act or wrongdoing, let alone an offence that would attract the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that he has been charged with.
In the affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court, the UP government has made a number of claims about the journalist, in an attempt to justify his arrest. The affidavit accuses him of travelling under “cover” as a journalist to Hathras, when he was detained on October 5 along with three others, and that he held an official post with the Popular Front of India (PFI).
The PFI is a registered legal organisation that has not been banned under the UAPA. The affidavit also claims that “evidence of the accused having links with banned organisations has emerged” but does not name the organisations or the nature of Siddique’s alleged “links” to them.
The FIRs appended to the annex lists as “incriminating material” recovered from him a pamphlet with the words, ‘Am I Not India’s Daughter’, which was the phrase around which protests in support of justice for the Hathras gang rape-and-murder victim were held across India on October 5. But there was nothing illegal about the protest or the pamphlet which was circulated for it.
He has also been accused of creating a website justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.co. The site has been taken down by whoever created it but there is no evidence on record to suggest the site was advocating violence or any illegal acts.
According to K N Ashok, editor of azhimukham.com, Siddique is associated as a contributor with the news portal since January this year. The portal has also submitted an affidavit to the court to prove his credentials as a journalist who wrote for them, according to The Telegraph.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), of which Kappan is a Delhi unit secretary, had filed a habeas corpus petition alleging that the journalist had been denied legal and family access.
The Uttar Pradesh police arrested Kappan and three student leaders of the Campus Front of India (CFI), a student wing of PFI when they were on their way to Hathras district, where the gangrape and brutal assault of a Dalit woman has sparked nationwide outrage. They have been charged with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including one relating to the charge of sedition.