Siddique Kappan is a 42-year-old seasoned Delhi-based Journalist from Kerala with a humble background. He is an engineering graduate who started pursuing journalism out of passion. He spent nine years of his life in Saudi Arabia and freelanced for various news publications.
Life and Activism
Because of his father’s death, he returned to India in 2011 and became a full–time reporter. He worked with Malayalam news publications Thejas, Talsamayam, Malayalam News and Prasadhakam. In January 2020, he joined the news portal Azhimukham. He faced severe financial constraints and took up translation and content writing work for a better income. He is married to Raihanath (37) and has three school-going children, all residing in their half-constructed house in Malappuram, Kerala. His mother passed away while he was in jail. He was denied bail by a Mathura court in July 2021.
Circumstances of Arrest
He was arrested on October 5, 2020, while on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to visit the family of the Dalit teenager, gang-raped and brutalised by “Upper caste” men leading to her death. He was reportedly held incommunicado for two days. He was accused by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police of having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organisation alleged to have ties with extremist groups. He and three other Muslim students were fabricated under the charges of causing “social unrest” in Hathras following the incident of caste–based gender violence. He is accused of money laundering a sum of 80 lakh rupees, tampering with computer source documents, sedition, criminal & terror activities, breaching of confidentiality and privacy, and power to investigate offences. His family and KUWJ claim that the UP police have foisted these cases against him to discredit his journalist and denied the UP police’s claim of him “posing” as a journalist when he possessed a press card.
Charges & Allegations
On October 7, 2020, Uttar Pradesh authorities revealed that he was being investigated for sedition (Sec. 124-A IPC), “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.” (Sec. 153A IPC), “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” (Sec. 295A IPC), “knowingly holding property derived or obtained from the commission of a terrorist act” (Sec. 14 Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)), raising funds for terrorist acts (Sec. 17 UAPA), “destroying digital evidence” (Sec. 65 Information Technology Act), and “breach of confidentiality and privacy” (Sec. 72 Information Technology Act).
He is currently under judicial custody and the charges of causing social unrest were dropped in June 2021 against him. He is a chronic diabetic patient who suffered custodial torture and was admitted to Mathura KM Medical College after testing positive for Covid in 2022. In the hospital, he was treated in an unhygienic condition where he was tied to a cot and was given a bottle to relieve himself. He later got shifted to AIIMS, Delhi, for better treatment through the intervention of Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. In February 2021, India’s Enforcement Directorate filed charges against him and four others, claiming that they were members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and had been involved in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the February 2020 Northeast Delhi riots, and protests surrounding the death of the Dalit woman in Hathras. On April 4, 2021, the Special Task Force of the Uttar Pradesh police filed a 5,000 pages charge sheet against him. They accused him of only reporting “to incite Muslims.” The charge sheet also included texts from 36 articles Siddique Kappan wrote about ongoing religious and sectarian issues in India. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Kappan’s lawyer and family did not receive the full chargesheet long after t was filed in court. On April 15, 2021, the Supreme Court granted him bail for five days to visit his ill mother. On April 21, 2021, he tested positive for COVID-19 after falling in the bathroom the day before. He was reportedly transferred to a Delhi hospital on April 30, 2021, and then later returned to prison on May 7, 2021.
In June 2021, a Mathura court dropped a breach of peace charge against him. On December 13, 2021, a Mathura court transferred his case to a special court of the National Investigation Agency in Lucknow. In addition to catching COVID-19, he reportedly suffers from depression, anxiety, and poor eyesight. He has not been unable to receive adequate medical care.
In September 2022, the Supreme Court granted Kappan bail after observing that no formal charges were filed against him. The court asked Kappan to stay in Delhi for next six weeks and comply with other bail conditions. However, soon after, the Enforcement Directorate filed a case of money laundering against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), resulting in further imprisonment.
He eventually got bail in the money laundering case three months later, in December 2022, from the Allahabad High Court. On February 1, 2023, the sureties of Kappan’s bail were submitted in a Lucknow court and a day later, on February 2, 2023, Kappan walked out of jail.