Expressing happiness over the bail granted to Malayali journalist Siddique Kappan, his wife Raihanath said she is hoping that he will be released from prison without delay.
The Allahabad High Court granted bail to Kappan on Friday, 23 December, in a case registered under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The Supreme Court had on 9 September granted bail to him in the Hathras conspiracy case.
The Uttar Pradesh police picked up the Delhi-based journalist on 5 October 2020 from a toll plaza in Mathura while he and three others were proceeding to Hathras to cover the gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman.
“He has been behind the bars for nearly two years and three months without any valid reasons,” Raihanath, 39, told South First.
“The verification process is still incomplete in the UP court. The same is the case with his driver, who had been granted bail earlier,” she added.
The driver, Mohammad Alam, was granted bail on 23 August.
“Verification seems to be such a big task. It should have been a simple process but not yet over. Such issues can happen but we are unaware of its procedures,” she said.
Her words echoed the fear that his release might be delayed.
In an earlier interview with South First, Raihanath had accused the UP police and the state government of doing everything at their disposal to keep Kappan in the prison.
A Lucknow court framed charges under the PMLA case against Kappan and six others on 6 December. The 42-year-old journalist was a regular contributor to the new portal, Azhimukham.
Charges against Kappan
Kappan was initially arrested on suspicion of breaching peace but was later charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
It was alleged that Kappan and his co-passengers were trying to foment communal riots and disrupt social harmony post the notorious gang rape and murder.
The journalist was charged under Sections 17/18 of the UAPA, Sections 120B, 153A/295A of the Indian Penal Code, and 65/72 of the IT Act.
Kappan approached the Supreme Court earlier after the Allahabad High Court upheld a Mathura court rejected his bail application. The High Court then observed that he had “no work” at Hathras.
A bench of the then Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat granted him bail. While granting him bail, he was directed to appear before the Delhi police for six weeks and later report to the Kerala police.
Raihanath said an innocent man has been jailed for nearly two-and-a-half years.
“It is true that he had credited ₹25,000 through a CDM. What is the fault in it? There is evidence for remitting the amount. Still, he was put behind the bars and branded a terrorist,” she said.
“If this is the case with a journalist, what would happen to a common man,” Raihanath wondered.
The woman added that her family has been after the case to get him released.
“No one could erase the emotional trauma we endured, the financial problems we faced in our life. But we are happy now,” she said hoping to receive him soon at their residence in Malappuram’s Vengara.