New Delhi: The wife of Malayalam journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested and charged under the UAPA while on his way to Hathras to cover the brutal violence on a Dalit woman, has been the latest to point out the double standards visible in politicians’ protests against the incarceration of Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami.
Kappan’s arrest has received significantly less attention, by media and politicians. Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including most of Narendra Modi’s cabinet, have been vocal in support of Goswami, who is known to be pro-government. Goswami had been held in connection with an abetment to suicide case from 2018.
The Telegraph newspaper has reported that Raihanath Kappan has taken a dim view of the treatment meted out to her husband.
“Our own minister in Delhi, [Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs] V. Muraleedharan, decried the arrest of Goswami and called it an assault on freedom of the press. But he didn’t spare a thought for a man from his own state who has been locked up in a jail in UP,” Raihanath said.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking its directions to urgently hear Kappan’s bail petition and asking that he be allowed regular video calls with his family members and lawyers.
Raihanath echoed KUWJ’s concerns.
“From what I was told, he managed to speak to his [90-year-old] mother for five minutes. When I checked on Truecaller (a call tracing application), I could see he had called from a landline in Mathura jail,” she told Telegraph.
Raihanath also spoke of considerable and sudden financial difficulties, incurred at this time. The couple have three children according to the report, two sons aged 17 and 12, and a 7-year-old daughter.
Raihanath is not the only one to point out this ostensible double standard. Journalist Prashant Kanojia, who received bail after imprisonment for nearly three months over a tweet which he had deleted, also made an observation on his incarceration in a tweet posted by Republic TV.
Siddique Kappan, a journalist who wrote for Malayalam-language news organisations, and three others were arrested by the UP police on October 6th, 2020 in Mathura while on their way to Hathras have been booked under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and sedition.
An FIR has been lodged against them in the Mant police station, charging them under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (for promoting enmity between groups) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the IPC, sections 14 and 17 of UAPA, sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act.
They were arrested near Mathura on October 6th 2020, with Kappan heading to Hathras to cover the present situation in the area in light of the death of the 19-year-old woman who was allegedly gang-raped by four Thakur men.
As per section 17 of the UAPA, “Whoever raises funds for the purpose of committing a terrorist act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine”.