Last week, worrisome reports came to the fore regarding the worsening health of Siddique Kappan, Keralite journalist and Secretary of the Delhi chapter of Kerala Union of Working Journalists, arrested by the UP police on his way to report on the Hathras gang rape. Subsequently, Kerala Chief Minister , the Leader of the Opposition, MPs, socio-political and religious activists and writers intervened, demanding his release.
During a televised discussion on the subject, Rahul Easwar, a noted right-wing commentator in Kerala, told Raihanath, wife of Kappan, also a participant, thus, "Siddique Kappan is an ideologue of Dalit-Muslim unity. The deep state of India is under the control of the Brahmin Front - which includes myself. They will not tolerate any plan of Dalit-Muslim alliance against them. Therefore, Kappan's release is not easy. Like Madani, he may have to spend a long time in jail. Therefore, there is no need to raise this issue politically. See if the case can be taken to the bench of Justice Chandrachud. Try to defend the case with a lawyer from the upper caste Hindu community." Easwar clearly stated the reason for Siddique Kappan's imprisonment.
The current Indian situation is that anyone who pursues a different ideology from the Sangh Parivar regime will have to go to jail. In such a situation, repeating the same politics over and over again will have no particular impact. Maintain silence on political and ideological issues, find good Brahmin/upper caste lawyers and defend the case; that's the only way. This is, in fact, the norm. But if any one raises the issue in the public domai, he will be tagged extremist and communalist and face court action. The only notable point in this is that someone from the upper caste right has openly stated it.
As Siddique Kappan is a journalist and a journalist union's office bearer, his case gained some visibility. With the exception of the Sangh Parivar, the public conscience of Kerala stood with him, albeit late. This may have positively influenced Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling. The bench, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana ruled that Kappan should be shifted from Mathura to Delhi for better treatment. The apex court said he could approach the lower court for bail once the treatment is over. Though Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared for the Central Government took a strong stand against Kappan, the Supreme Court stood firm on its stand that Kappan must be given better treatment.
The SC directed that special medical attention be arranged for Kappan at AIIMS or Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in Delhi. Kappan, who had previously suffered from heart disease and diabetes, was tested Covid positive in prison. He also suffered a jaw injury after collapsing in a prison cell. It is on this occasion that, the court, emphasizing that the health of every citizen is important, has issued an order to provide Kappan treatment outside Uttar Pradesh. To people trapped in a dark pit of injustice, this intervention is like the light of a firefly in the dark.
We all know Siddique Kappan's is not an isolated case. There are other co-prisoners also from Kerala. Few come out to speak for them simply because of their affiliation with the Popular Front of India. One of them, Rauf Shareef, the national general secretary of the Campus Front of India, is also struggling with health issues including Covid. The Supreme Court has already asked the Solicitor General during the hearing about Popular Front not being a banned organisation.
Sometimes, it is not just the state, but also the rights activists who forget that rights are applicable to members of organisations they don't support or agree with. Over half a dozen student leaders and activists who were at the forefront of organising the anti-CAA protests have been put behind bars for over a year now. None of them is a charged in any criminal cases. They are political prisoners. Putting undertrial political prisoners in jail for this long is state terror. Politics in these times cannot go forward without standing up to and questioning this state terror. For those standing for such politics, this intervention by the Supreme Court is a small breath of relief.