A journalists’ union from Kerala on Wednesday filed a contempt plea in the Supreme Court, alleging that government officials in Uttar Pradesh moved journalist Siddque Kappan out of a hospital on May 6 even though he was unwell, Live Law reported.
The journalists’ association said that the move was a violation of an order passed by the court.
“The accused is still in need of the medical assistance, which was denied to him, and delay in treatment will result in irreparable injury,” the Kerala Union Of Working Journalists said in its plea, according to The Print. The group said Kappan was in severe pain.
Kappan, a journalist from Kerala, had been arrested in October last year while he was on his way to Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district to report on the gang rape case. Four upper-caste Thakur men had tortured and raped a Dalit woman in the district in September 2020.
The police alleged that Kappan was going to Hathras as part of a conspiracy to create law and order trouble and foment caste riots. The journalist was charged with sedition and also booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Kappan had tested positive for the coronavirus in April. He also reportedly has several comorbid conditions.
The Supreme Court had in April directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift him to a hospital in Delhi for treatment. The court had also said that Kappan should not be discharged till he recovers, Live Law reported.
In its plea, filed on Wednesday, the Kerala Union Of Working Journalists said that despite the court order, Kappan was moved out of the hospital on the midnight of May 6 while he was still being treated for the coronavirus.
“The act of discharging Mr Sidhique Kappan at midnight on 06.05.2021, even depriving him of his sleep amounted to contempt of court, the petition said, according to The Print.
The journalists’ union sought action against the senior superintendent of Mathura jail, Uttar Pradesh’s police chief and top government officials, the news portal reported.
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Accusations against Kappan
The police have alleged that Kappan is a part of the Popular Front of India, a hardline Muslim organisation that authorities accuse of having links with extremist groups. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists has denied the police’s accusation.
The Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force has claimed in its chargesheet, filed in April, that Kappan did not write like a “responsible journalist” and reported events to “incite Muslims”. It has also accused the journalist of “trying to further the terror agenda” of the banned organisation Student’s Islamic Movement of India.
The chargesheet cited 36 articles written by Kappan as evidence for the charges of incitement.
The articles include one on the Nizamuddin Markaz mosque in Delhi, blamed for thousands of coronavirus infections around the country in the initial weeks of the nationwide lockdown in March 2020. The event had renewed stigma against Muslims, triggering a wave of business boycotts and hate speech.
In June, a court in Mathura dropped three bailable charges against journalist Siddique Kappan, Atikur Rahman, Aalam and Masood as the police failed to complete the inquiry within the prescribed period of six months.
The charges are related to apprehension of breach of peace by an individual and prevention of commission of cognisable offences.
The journalist’s continued imprisonment has triggered massive outrage. On Tuesday, members of various journalist associations held a protest outside the Press Club of India in Delhi. They demanded Kappan’s immediate release, reported PTI.
The Editors Guild of India had said in April that the treatment meted out to Kappan should stir the country’s conscience.