The lawyer of jailed journalist Siddique Kappan has alleged that his client has been transferred back from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Hospital in Delhi to Mathura Jail in Uttar Pradesh, even though he was still unwell, The Indian Express reported on Sunday.
Mathura Jail Superintendent Shailendra Maitreyi confirmed that Kappan had been brought back to the prison on Thursday night and kept in an isolation ward, reported The Hindu. He, however, added that the journalist was transferred after being discharged from AIIMS as he showed improvement.
On April 28, the Supreme Court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to shift Kappan from Mathura Jail to a government hospital in Delhi for better medical treatment. The court gave the order based on a letter addressed to it from the wife of the Kerala-based journalist, who has been in prison since October for trying to report on the Hathras gangrape case. Kappan’s lawyer had submitted to the Supreme Court that that the journalist had tested positive for coronavirus. But Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had argued saying that while his Rapid Antigen Test was positive, the RT-PCR test came negative.
On Saturday, Kappan’s lawyer Wills Mathews said that he was then declared Covid-19 negative twice before testing positive again three or four days back, The Hindu reported.
“He [Kappan] is still Covid-positive and is unwell...He tested positive on Thursday,” Mathews told The Indian Express. “Shifting him back to Mathura is in a way contempt of court.”
Speaking to The Hindu, Mathews said that Kappan had injuries on his body and face and was “highly diabetic”. He added that the journalist was denied permission to meet his wife and son who waited for seven days in Delhi.
Speaking through an acquaintance, Raihanath Kappan said she received information through sources that her husband had been shifted to Mathura. However, no official has so far spoken to her on the matter, The Hindu reported.
“He [Kappan] called her [Raihanath Kappan] and said he was kind of fine but the treatment had not been completed,” the acquaintance said.
Mathews said he was discussing the matter with Kerala Union of Working Journalists and was likely to move the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s transfer to Mathura Jail.
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.