New Delhi: Jailed journalist Siddique Kappan was in touch with top leaders of banned outfit Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), and was also in possession of literature related to the organisation, a Mathura court observed Tuesday while dismissing his plea for bail.
Kappan was arrested on 5 October 2020, when he was on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the alleged gang rape-cum-murder case of a 19-year-old.
The police have charged him with having links with the Popular Front of India (PFI), which is not a banned organisation but is said to be the successor to SIMI, and accused him of visiting Hathras with a determined design to create caste divide and disturbing law and order situation in the area.
On 1 June, Kappan moved the Mathura court for bail, claiming the facts stated in the FIR are fabricated, concocted and manipulated.
Kappan has been charged with Indian Penal Code (IPC) offences, including sedition and creating communal disharmony. Provisions of the anti-terror law, UAPA and Information Technology (IT) Act too have been invoked against him.
However, additional sessions judge Anil Kumar Pandey, noted in his order that according to police investigation, Kappan, in the garb of being a journalist, actually worked for PFI, at whose instance he also carried out unlawful activities.
In the four-page order, the judge discussed the merits of the case in one page. The remaining three pages contained the charges against Kappan, arguments advanced on behalf of his lawyer and the police response to his bail plea.
Kappan’s articles intended to disrupt communal harmony
The UP Police on 4 April had filed a charge-sheet running into 5,000 pages in a Mathura court against eight people, including Kappan.
Arguing for bail before Pandey, Kappan’s lawyer, advocate Wills Mathew argued that the journalist was on his way to Hathras to carry out his professional assignment. He even denied Kappan had links with PFI, as alleged by UP police. There was no evidence to establish the charges registered against him, he said.
But the judge relied upon the police investigation to reject Mathew’s submissions and described Kappan’s articles written for Kerala-based website, Azhimukham, as “communally sensitive”.
The police had recovered these articles from Kappan’s laptop that was seized from his residence in Delhi by the UP police.
Even the literature and material related to SIMI was found to be in his laptop, besides the contact details of some SIMI members, the judge said.
The judge recorded in his order that during investigation it was also found that Kappan was closely associated with PFI and that he carried the identity card of a Malayalam publication that closed down in December 2018.
The court also took note of two financial transactions in Kappan’s bank account and said he was provided with the funds to conduct “anti-national” and illegal activities. In the first transaction Kappan had received Rs 20,000, while in the second he got Rs 25,000.