Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday wrote to his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Adityanath seeking expert medical care and humane treatment for journalist Siddique Kappan. The Malayalam journalist has been in prison since October for trying to report on the Hathras gangrape case.
“It has been brought to my attention by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists and some prominent media persons of national repute that Shri Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala presently in custody under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, is facing severe health problems,” Vijayan wrote in the letter.
The journalist, who is reported to have diabetes and heart ailments, was admitted to KVM Hospital in Mathura after he contracted the Covid-19 infection. “He is reportedly being kept chained to his bed even when his health condition is precarious,” Vijayan said. “I request your good self to intervene in the matter so that humane treatment is accorded to Kappan.”
The chief minister urged the Uttar Pradesh government to consider shifting Kappan to another hospital with better facilities. “People in general and the media fraternity in particular are anxious to know about his predicament and humans rights and are very much concerned about his plight,” Vijayan added. “I request you to make sure that he gets all medical facilities.”
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This is the first time Vijayan has intervened in the matter. It came after Kappan’s wife Raihanath and the Kerala Kerala Union of Working Journalists approached him for help. They also approached the Supreme Court on April 24 urging it to move him to a hospital in Delhi. Kappan had tested positive for the coronavirus on April 23.
Earlier on Sunday, 11 MPs from the United Democratic Front wrote to Chief Justice of India NV Ramana seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention, according to The New Indian Express. The parliamentarians said that Kappan was chained to the bed like an animal and pointed out that he had suffered a fracture to his jaw bone a few days ago.
“Unable to consume food and denied right to a toilet for four days, he [Siddique Kappan] has become extremely weak,” the MPs said in their joint letter. “It is shocking beyond words that such grave violation of human rights is happening in our India, a democracy.”
The MPs included K Sudhakaran, K Muraleedharan, ET Mohammed Basheer, VK Sreekandan, Ramya Haridas, Benny Behanan, TN Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Anto Antony, NK Premachandran and PV Abdul Wahab.
The case against Kappan
Kappan, a journalist for the Malayalam news portal Azhimukham, was arrested in October while he was on his way to report on the Hathras case, in which a 19-year-old Dalit woman had died on September 14 after four upper caste man gangraped her. The Uttar Pradesh Police later booked him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and charges of sedition.
Three other men who were in the car with him were also arrested for similar offences.
The police claimed that Kappan was arrested because he was going to Hathras as part of a conspiracy to create law and order trouble and foment caste riots. They claimed that Kappan and others were 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.
In its chargesheet, the police alleged that Kappan and others received funds of about Rs 80 lakh from financial institutions in Doha and Muscat to create trouble.