Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath requesting his intervention to save the life of COVID positive Sidique Kappan, the journalist arrested by the UP police in the wake of the Hathras rape-murder of a Dalit girl last year. Kappan is reportedly critically ill.
Vijayan has demanded that Kappan be shifted to a super specialty hospital. The Chief Minister has requested that the UP government adopt a humanitarian approach in the matter.
Kappan was arrested on his way to Hathras in western UP in October 2020 for reporting the controversial rape and murder of a Dalit girl and was slapped with a case under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act (UAPA). He has been in jail in Mathura since then.
Kappan’s wife Raihanath Kappan recently told media that he had tested positive for COVID and collapsed in the jail. She made a public appeal seeking support to save his life and requested the chief minister to intervene. She alleged that her husband was not being given proper medical attention.
“He told me that he was chained to a bed and was not allowed even to go to the washroom. He was not able to eat and was too weak and ill,” she said, adding Kappan suffered an injury to his cheekbone after he collapsed in jail. “He is a heart patient and a chronic diabetic too,” says Raihanath.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists has declared ‘black day’ on Monday (April 26) demanding justice to Kappan. The union has moved the Supreme Court seeking to shift him to AIIMS. The union has also submitted a representation to Vijayan asking him to write to the UP CM to intervene in the matter.
Eleven MPs from Kerala have also sent a letter to the Chief Justice of India urging him to shift Kappan to Delhi AIIMS. The Committee for the Protection of Journalists, an international platform for the rights of journalists, has also issued a statement urging the Indian government to release Kappan and allow him to avail proper medical care. “We are deeply concerned by the grave risk to the jailed Indian journalist Sidique Kappan’s life as he battles COVID-19,” said Alya Iftikar, CPJ’s senior Asia research Associate.
“Kappan should never have been jailed in the first place, and the UP authorities must immediately release him and drop the charges against him,” says CPJ in a statement issued in Delhi.