Renowned Journalist and Magsaysay award winner P. Sainath wrote an open letter to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, asking him to strongly intervene in the arrest of journalist Siddique Kappan, presently in the custody of the Uttar Pradesh police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Siddique Kappan was arrested while on his way to Uttar Pradesh's Hathras - to cover the Hathras gang rape and murder- and jailed in Uttar Pradesh's Mathura since October 5, 2020. The Delhi-based journalist, who writes for Malayalam portals and magazines was booked under UAPA and for sedition, for allegedly attempting to create social tension.
Sainath, the founder of the People's Archive of Rural India (PARI), called this a glaring example of a pattern of arrests across the country for a few years now. He said that the police simply charge someone with 'conspiracy' without any shred of evidence against them.
"It does not matter that these cases might be thrown out of court – that may take years to happen. But the arrest, detention and the attendant – often orchestrated – publicity allows for the life of the individual to be destroyed through prolonged incarceration and character assassination. This sends out a chilling message to thousands of other journalists" said Sainath.
"I have no hesitation in saying that this is one of the most outrageous cases of misuse of laws and abuse of power against a journalist that I have seen in my 40 years in the profession. I am aware that the Kerala Union of Working Journalists is making commendable efforts to intervene in the case on his behalf and to secure his freedom from incarceration," he added.
Sainath also appealed to the government of Kerala to strongly intervene, and take up the matter with the UP government and ensure due process of law in the courts.
He reminded Pinarayi that this is the right time to stand up for all the journalists who are facing constant bullying, intimidation and terror in this country often making it a "bad" place for journalism, as reflected in the World Press Freedom Index 2021 reports.
Earlier, while speaking to the media on Sunday, Siddique Kappan's wife Raihana Kappan alleged that UP police was treating him like an animal and denying him the basic right to go to a toilet. She had also slammed the Pinarayi government earlier for not intervening in the matter citing tehnicalities.