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UP Opposes in SC Bail Plea of Kerala Journalist Siddique Kappan, Says He Has Links with PFI

File photo of Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan. (Image: Twitter)

File photo of Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan. (Image: Twitter)

The state government in its additional affidavit has given details of the probe conducted by its STF so far in the case and vehemently opposed the bail plea of Kappan moved by Kerala Union of Working Journalists.

The Uttar Pradesh government Monday opposed in the Supreme Court the bail plea of Kerala-based scribe Siddique Kappan, arrested on his way to Hathras where a young Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped, saying he has been associated with PFI, responsible for disrupting public peace by provoking the class and caste conflicts. The state government in its additional affidavit, filed through Satya Prakash Upadhyay, Special Secretary of Department of Home Affairs, has given details of the probe conducted by its Special Task Force (STF) so far in the case and vehemently opposed the bail plea of Kappan moved by Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ).

Kappan has been associated with the Popular Front of India (PFI) which has been responsible for disrupting the pubic peace of the State by provoking the class and caste conflicts within the State with an intention to destroy the public order and to tarnish the image of the government established by law the affidavit said.

Investigation has also revealed that the accused Kappan is not only involved in hatching a design to commit a cognizable offence to disrupt public order an pace but is also a mastermind having links with various unfortunate riots, disturbing public tranquility nationwide, it said. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde fixed the plea of KUWJ questioning Kappan's arrest for hearing in the third week of January after asking it to file the reply to the additional affidavit of the state government. The bail application filed by KUWJ in respect of the accused being devoid of merits and deserved to be rejected for the reason that the investigation in the case has been handed over to the Special Task Force and the his custody is required for thorough and effective investigation, the state government said.

Further various evidences are yet to be collected /recorded and it is to be noted that the nature of the evidence that has been collected so far supports the accusation levelled against the accused, it said. If the bail application is accepted by the apex court, then there was a strong likelihood of Kappan fleeing and indulging in similar activities, it said, adding that the accused may interfere with the smooth investigation. Kappan and all other accused are directly and closely associated with the PFI members who have been executive members of 'banned terrorist organization SIMI, it said. During the interrogation on October 5, Kappan had presented a fake identity card claiming himself to be a reporter of a Malyalam Newspaper 'Thejas', it said.

Investigation has revealed that this newspaper closed operations in December 2018 and has not been in existence since then, it said and accused the journalists' body of trying to cover up the true identity of the accused. Since the newspaper 'Thejas' stopped publishing in December, 2018, it is wrong to suggest that the accused was working as a journalist and was approaching Hathras in order to report the incident, the additional affidavit said. During the period when Kappan was associated with 'Thejas', most of its editors were the executive members of PFI, the state government alleged.

As per detailed investigation till date, in the instant case, most of the members of PFI, who are ex-office bearers of banned organization 'SIMI' have been in close intimacy with accused Kappan, it said. Accused Kappan and all other co-accused were heading towards Hathras in pre-planned manner to execute unlawful activities and to disrupt the public peace of the state by provoking the class and caste conflicts within the state, the affidavit said.

The state government alleged that Kappan has not been assisting in the investigation and moreover, the bail pleas of his co-accused have been rejected on merits by the trial courts. It said that the standard operating procedure to control the spread of COVID-19 has been strictly followed in the jails across Uttar Pradesh and in the present case, accused Kappan and others were transferred to the main Mathura jail on October 24 after completion of their quarantine period. Earlier, the KUWJ had said that the accused is innocent and even urged the top court to order an independent inquiry by a retired top court judge to determine the facts of the illegal arrest and detention of Kappan.

Kappan was arrested on October 5 while he was on his way to Hathras, home to the young Dalit woman who died after being allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men. The FIR has been filed under various provisions of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against four people having alleged links with PFI.

PFI had been accused in the past of funding protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the country earlier this year. Hathras has been in the news following the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14, 2020, in a village in the district.

Her cremation at night by the authorities, allegedly without the parents' consent, has triggered widespread outrage.

first published:December 14, 2020, 19:15 IST