Hathras: Kerala union files habeas corpus plea in SC seeking scribe’s release

The Uttar Pradesh police on Monday night detained four men – one of them is a journalist, who is a contributor for a popular Kerala-based website – linked to the Popular Front of India

Rangoli protest
The state government has blamed the PFI, among others, for protests in the state against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that began last year and wants it banned. Photo for representational purpose only: Twitter

The Kerala Union for Working Journalists on Tuesday (October 6) filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court seeking the release of journalist Siddique Kappan, who was detained by the Uttar Pradesh police when he was on his way to report the Hathras rape-murder case.

The Uttar Pradesh police on Monday night (October 5) detained four men – one of them is a journalist, who is a contributor for a popular Kerala-based website – linked to the Popular Front of India following lodging of 19 FIRs in connection with the alleged gang rape and death of a Dalit girl in Hathras last week.

The suspects were headed to Hathras from Delhi in a car when they were stopped and detained, the police said. Atiq-ur Rehman, Siddique Kappan, Masood Ahmed and Alam were stopped at a toll after they received information that some “suspicious people were on their way to Hathras from Delhi”.

Siddique Kappan, a journalist, had “gone to Hathras on Monday to cover the present situation in the area,” the Kerala Union of Working Journalists said in a statement. He is also the secretary of Kerala Union of Working Journalists’ Delhi unit.

In a letter, addressed to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the journalists’ body urged for his release “at the earliest”.

“We understand that he was taken into police custody by Uttar Pradesh police from Hathras toll plaza. Our efforts and the efforts by some advocates based in Delhi to contact him were not successful. The Hathras police station and the state police department have not provided any information so far on taking him into custody,” the journalist organization said in its letter.

The state government has blamed the PFI, among others, for protests in the state against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that began last year and wants it banned.

Their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature, “which could have an impact on peace, and law and order in the state”, have been seized, the police said in an official statement.

During questioning, the men revealed they had links with the PFI and its associate, the Campus Front of India (CFI), the police said.

Last year, the UP government sought a ban on the PFI over its alleged links to the statewide protests against the citizenship law, which was called “anti-Muslim” by several opposition parties and critics.

On October 5, the police claimed to have unraveled an “international conspiracy” to foment caste conflict in the state to defame the Yogi Adityanath government over the Hathras incident. The police registered 19 FIRs – some covering sedition charges — across the state.

At least six persons, including two in Lucknow, have been arrested in the alleged conspiracy. Police sources said intelligence agencies have indicated alleged involvement of the organizations such as Amnesty International, PFI and SDPI, workers and leaders of many mainstream political parties in the conspiracy to tarnish the state government’s image in the garb of seeking justice for the Hathras victim.

The police also claimed evidence of an international funding involving the case.

The death of the 20-year-old woman has sparked massive protests across the country; several opposition leaders have demanded Yogi Adityanath’s resignation.

On Sunday, the Chief Minister, apparently targeting the opposition parties that have been holding protests over the issue, tweeted: “Those who do not like development, they want to incite ethnic and communal riots.”

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