Journalism Is Not A Crime: Siddique Kappan
The Kerala-based journalist says he will continue the fight against draconian laws
Journalist Siddique Kappan walked out of Lucknow jail after 28 months on Thursday. Speaking to the media after his release the Kerala-based journalist said he has embraced freedom after 28 months. “It is after 28 months that I am free,” he said, adding that he “struggled” during his time in prison but that “he was not afraid”.
“This is half-baked justice. Journalism is not a crime. I will continue my fight against draconian laws. They kept me in jail even after I got bail... 28 months after a long fight. I don't know who's benefiting from my being in jail. These two years were very tough, but I was never afraid," he told NDTV after his release from the Lucknow jail.
His wife and eldest son, who were patiently waiting for his release, said that they were “proud” and happy that justice had been served at last. On Wednesday, the sessions court had signed Kappan's release orders on bail.
“Two-and-a half-years is not a short time. We have experienced a lot of pain and suffering. But I am happy that justice, though belated, has been served,” said Kappan's wife Raihana told the media.
Raihana and Kappan's three children – Muzammil (19), Zidhan (14) and Mehnaz (9) – have waited for 28 months to see their father walk out of the jail. Kappan's mother died during this period. She was 90.
The journalist’s release has also raised questions about the legal process. Journalist Kaushik Raj while writing about Kappan’s release said, “Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan finally walks out after spending over 2 years in jail and after facing the worst of our legal process. Bail was rejected in High Court, then granted in Supreme Court, but remained in jail due to PMLA, got bail in it too, then struggled to get surety.”
Kappan was expected to walk out last evening, but he could not be released since the judge of a special court that hears money laundering cases was busy with a bar council election.
He was arrested in October 2020 while on his way to Uttar Pradesh's Hathras to report on the alleged gang rape and death of a 20-year-old Dalit woman, which triggered protests across the country. The police said he was going there to create unrest.
The young woman later died at a Delhi hospital, succumbing to injuries sustained when she was allegedly gang-raped. She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village by the district administration, sparking accusations of a cover-up and widespread condemnation of the Yogi Adityanath government.
Kappan was accused of Sedition and charged under the tough anti-terror law UAPA. In February 2022, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering case against him, accusing him of receiving money from the banned People's Front of India (P.F.I.).
He was granted bail in September last year from the Supreme Court after observing that no formal charges were filed against him and a document named "Toolkit" recovered by the state police only propagated a call for justice in the rape case.
Kappan got bail in the money laundering case three months later. But his release was held up due to alleged multiple bureaucratic lapses.