Siddiqui Kappan has been in jail since October last year
Lucknow: A 5,000-page chargesheet by Uttar Pradesh Police against journalist Siddiqui Kappan, jailed last year when he was headed to report the Hathras gangrape case that triggered nationwide shock, has accused him of “trying to further the terror agenda” of the banned outfit SIMI (Student’s Islamic Movement of India), according to a few pages reviewed.
The chargesheet – filed in April by the UP Police’s Special Task Force and presented before a Mathura court – has still not been made available to Mr Kappan or his legal representatives, his lawyers have claimed. They have petitioned the trial court, seeking “true copies of the document to the accused”.
Thirty-six articles written by Mr Kappan – accused of having links to the Popular Front of India or PFI, an outfit the Yogi Adityanath government wants banned – have been cited in the chargesheet.
One of the articles is on the protests against the controversial citizenship law that started in December 2019 across the country and continued till the pandemic began. “The article talks about the firing by a Hindu man Kapil Gurjar during the Shaheen Bagh Protests and compares this incident to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The article also criticizes that way the Delhi Police handled the protests,” the chargesheet reads.
Another article cited is on Sharjeel Imam, an activist facing a terror case over his alleged role in the northeast Delhi riots last year, saying it promotes feelings of communalism.
“During a riot, when you take the name of only a particular community and publish incidents related to that community, members of that community get enraged. Responsible reporters do not indulge in such communal reporting, but Siddiqui Kappan’s journalism was only meant to incite Muslims and to further the agenda of the PFI that wants to provoke riots and communal feelings,” it reads.
The chargesheet also cites another article on the controversy over the alleged role of the Nizamuddin Markaz in spreading the pandemic, saying “it has been presented as a ploy by the central government to defame the Muslim community.”
The chargesheet calls the articles “a collaboration with members of SIMI and an attempt to legitimize the banned outfit’s agenda”.
However, Wills Mathews , Mr Kappan’s lawyer, called it one-sided and highlighted how Mr Kappan, the other accused and their legal counsels have not been provided with authorised copies of this chargesheet even a year after the journalist’s arrest.
“Mr Kappan has nothing to hide. He even volunteered to undergo Narco analysis or brain mapping tests to prove his innocence. Even after a full year of Kappan’s arrest and six months after the chargesheet was filed in court, we have still not received it,” Mr Mathews said in a statement.
Mr Kappan and three others have been in jail after their arrest in October last year, when they were headed from Delhi to western Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, where a young Dalit woman was gang-raped in September by four men from a so-called upper caste community , eventually leading to her death.
Mr Kappan and the others have been charged under the stringent anti-terror law and other sections of the Indian Penal Code. All of them say they have been framed by the police.
In August, a Mathura court dismissed the UP Police’s plea to interrogate Kappan again about some incriminating document found at his Delhi residence.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Anil Kumar Pandey rejected the Special Task Force plea, saying that the accused cannot be allowed to be interrogated again after the chargesheet in the case has already been filed, news agency PTI reported.