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Kerala journalist was asked to travel to Hathras by Delhi riots accused, UP govt tells SC

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court last week, UP government alleged that Siddiqui Kappan's travel was facilitated by PFI's student wing, and accused him of misleading probe.

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New Delhi: Detained journalist Siddique Kappan was going to Hathras “upon instructions of Md. Danish”, who is one of the accused in the Delhi riots case, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court.

In an additional affidavit filed in the top court last week, the UP government alleged that Kappan, along with three other accused, was “headed towards Hathras in a pre-planned manner to execute unlawful activities and to disrupt the public peace of the state by provoking the class and caste conflicts within the state”.

The affidavit claims that K.A. Rauf Sherief, national general secretary of Campus Front of India (CFI), the student wing of the Kerala-based radical organisation Popular Front of India (PFI), was “facilitating the movement”.

“It is most pertinent to mention that the Delhi Riots accused Md. Danish and Rauf Sherief were continuously in touch with Siddique Kappan and all other co-accused through the cell phones which were recovered by police from the vehicle being used by the accused on way to Hathras on 05.10.2020,” it adds.

The affidavit was filed in response to a habeas corpus petition filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), challenging Kappan’s arrest and detention, in the Supreme Court. The journalist was arrested on 5 October while he was on his way to Hathras to report the aftermath of the alleged gang rape and death of a Dalit woman.

During the SC hearing Monday, the bench comprising Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian posted the matter for the third week of January 2021, after KUWJ’s lawyer, senior advocate Kapil Sibal sought time to file a response to the UP government.

Also read: Among UP’s ‘incriminating’ evidence against Kappan — ‘Justice for Hathras victim’ flyer

Kappan not cooperating with probe, UP govt says

The affidavit by the UP government also demands that Kappan’s bail application be rejected, claiming that there is a likelihood of him “going underground or becoming unavailable” if granted bail.

It has asserted that the investigation of the case has been handed over to the special task force (STF) on 23 October and his custody is required for “thorough and effective investigation”.

“Thus if the bail application of the accused is allowed at this stage then there is a strong likelihood that the Accused will interfere with the course of investigation, indulge in similar activities which would hamper smooth investigation, and will make himself scarce by going underground or becoming unavailable,” the UP government has claimed.

The affidavit also alleges that Kappan has not been assisting the authorities in the investigation, and has not disclosed details and passwords of his social media accounts “in order to conceal his misdeeds”.

It notes that Kappan “misled the investigation team by intentionally informing the wrong address of his Delhi based residence, misled as to whereabouts of his passport, non cooperation during search of house, thus he has not been assisting the investigation even during judicial custody”.

“Accused Siddique Kappan even denied contact with his room partner who has been residing with him at his Delhi based residence, with the malafide intention to conceal the incrimination documents later recovered from his house,” the affidavit added.

The UP government also denied KUWJ’s claim that Kappan was not allowed to meet his lawyer or speak to his family members.

Furthermore, it reiterated the allegation that Kappan and the three others arrested are “directly and closely associated with PFI members who have been executive members of banned terrorist organisation SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India)”.

The affidavit has alleged that the probe has revealed that Kappan is “not only involved in hatching a design to commit cognizable offence to disrupt public order and peace but is also a master mind having links with various unfortunate riots, disturbing public tranquility nationwide”.

Also read: Arnab Goswami’s swift bail should be the rule for undertrials. Not the exception

Kappan beaten in custody, wants narco test: KUWJ

In an affidavit filed on 30 November, KUWJ had told the Supreme Court that Kappan was beaten with a lathi, slapped thrice and mentally tortured while in custody.

The KUWJ claimed that when Kappan’s lawyer Wills Mathews met him on 21 November for 30 minutes, he “was shocked to hear that Mr. Kappan was beaten with lathi three times on his thigh, slapped three times after taking out the spectacles, dragged, forced to stay awake from 6pm to 6am depriving him of the sleep, without proper medicines, along with serious mental torture from 05.10.2020 to 06.10.2020”.

It further asserted that Kappan wanted to go to Hathras “in discharge of his journalistic duties”.

“The accused Mr. Siddique Kappan specifically requested the lawyer to make a request to this Hon’ble court, to permit him to undergo Narco Analysis test or Brain mapping test or Lie Detector test, or any other scientific test to show that, he/the accused is innocent,” KUWJ’s affidavit added.

However, the UP government’s latest affidavit denies this, submitting that Kappan was medically examined on 6 October after his arrest and that “no fresh injury” was found during this examination.

Also read: Hathras, Balrampur are preventable. This is what we found in our study of UP and Bihar teens


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