A 41 year old journalist from Kerala and three others, who were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police while on way to Hathras earlier this week, have been charged under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA, and sedition by the Uttar Pradesh police,reports NDTV. In the FIR, the police have applied the Section 17 of the UAPA, which deals with "raising funds for a terrorist act",says the report
Journalist Siddique Kappan was going to Hathras on Monday to cover the situation following the alleged gang rape and death of the 20-year-old woman from Scheduled Castes, which has triggered outrage across the country.
Mr Kappan, a contributor for a popular Kerala-based website azhimukham.com, is also the secretary of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists(KUWJ). Apart from Kappan, CFI office bearers Atiq-ur-Rahman and Masood Ahmed have been arrested along with another person identified as Alam.
On Tuesday, KUWJ had filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court against the arrest of Kappan by Uttar Pradesh Police.
The petition says "The arrest was with a view to obstruct the discharge of duty in the capacity as journalist. The family members nor the colleagues were not informed about the arrest nor the place of the detention,"
"The present Writ petition is confined to facilitate a dignified democratic working atmosphere according to the letter, spirit and philosophy of the constitution of India, for the members of petitioner who are all working journalists, including access to Hathras and for the immediate release of Mr. Siddique Kappan," the petition added.
The journalists union asked the court to issue orders directing the respondents to produce Siddique before the apex court and release him from illegal detention.
The Union of India, the State of Uttar Pradesh, The Director General of Police and the Commissioner of Police are the respondents of the petition.
Meanwhile, On wednesday, The Press Association and the Indian Women Press Corps described the arrest of Siddique Kappan as the Uttar Pradesh government's attempt to "silence" the media and demanded his immediate release.
Uttar Pradesh police on Monday said that the four people had links with the Popular Front of India and its affiliate in Mathura.
"The UP government claims that the journalist has links with some groups but has not offered any proof in this regard," the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) and the Press Association said in a statement.
Condemning the arrest of Kappan, a contributor for a Kerala-based website, they pointed out that he was on his way to Hathras to report on the story.
His mobile phone and laptop were seized by the police, the statement said.
On Tuesday, In a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) sought Kappan's immediate release, saying he is "a senior Delhi-based journalist working for several Malayalam media houses, including azhimukham.com".
KP Reji,President of KUWJ had wrote a similar letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to order Kappan's release on Tuesday.