Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested on terrorism charges while on his way to UP’s Hathras to report on the rape and murder of a Dalit woman two years ago, was today granted bail by the High Court in a money laundering case.
He had already obtained bail from the Supreme Court in September in the terror case — filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other related laws — but remained in Lucknow jail, having failed to get any relief in the matter so far. The file presented by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021.
Earlier this month, a court in Lucknow filed charges against him and six others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which meant the trial could finally begin. The other accused are KA Rauf Sherif, Atikur Rahman, Masud Ahmad, Mohammad Alam, Abdul Razzak and Ashraf Khadir.
Police said the men are members of the since-banned Popular Front of India and its student wing, the Campus Front of India (CFI). The main allegation is that he was going to Hathras with the intention of spreading communal dissent on the PFI guidelines.
Siddique Kappan and his lawyers have repeatedly denied involvement in terrorist acts or financing, arguing that he was only going to Hathras for journalistic work.
Three months ago, when the Supreme Court granted him bail in the terror case, the order was welcomed by Opposition parties and journalists’ groups. There are allegations that Mr. Kappan was made a “soft target” by UP’s BJP government because he was a Muslim.
Mr Kappan and three of the accused – Atikur Rehman, Mohammad Alam and Masud Ahmad – were arrested by the UP Police in Mathura in October 2020 while on their way to Hathras.
It was days after a Dalit woman was killed there, allegedly after she was gang-raped. The district administration cremated him in the middle of the night in his village, sparking protests and widespread condemnation of Yogi Adityanath’s BJP government.
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