Mehnaz Kappan, the nine-year-old daughter of jailed journalist Siddique Kappan, delivered a speech underlining the values of freedom on Independence Day. Her father has been in prison for over 600 days now.

“I am Mehnaz Kappan,” she said during her speech at a government school in Kerala, “daughter of journalist Siddique Kappan, a citizen who has been forced into a dark room by breaking all of the freedom of a citizen,”

Recalling the sacrifices and struggles of India’s freedom fighters, she said every Indian has the right to resist or oppose those asking them to leave, they have the choice to decide what to speak or eat, or which religion to profess.

“The dignity of the great nation of India, which was resurrected on August 15, should not be compromised... However, there is unrest at places, even today,” she said, speaking in Malayalam. “This is reflected in the violence erupting based on religion, caste, politics. All these must be weeded out by all of us together with love and unity.

Kappan, who has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), was arrested in October 2020 on his way to report on the Hathras gangrape. The Uttar Pradesh Police had accused the Kerala-based journalist of intending to start a caste-based riot and create communal disharmony.