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How Kerala journalists’ union kept fight for Siddique Kappan alive

At the time of his arrest, Kappan was the Secretary of the Delhi unit of the KUWJ. Soon after his arrest, the union filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan's custody.

Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan. (File)

Speaking after her husband was granted bail on Friday, Raihana, Siddique Kappan’s wife, said that the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has stood with the family throughout.

At the time of his arrest, Kappan was the Secretary of the Delhi unit of the KUWJ. Soon after his arrest, the union filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court challenging Kappan’s custody.

“The habeas corpus petition took around six months to settle. When the SC was hearing the habeas corpus petition, we couldn’t move the lower court,” said P K Manikandan, former secretary, KUWJ Delhi unit.

The KUWJ approached the SC once again when the Uttar Pradesh Police and jail authorities were not allowing Kappan to meet his family and advocate, Manikandan said. “After that, he was permitted to call his family,” he added.

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“Meanwhile, they were not giving him proper medical attention in jail. He is diabetic. We came to know that he was admitted in hospital and tied up,” Manikandan alleged.

“While the habeas corpus case was pending, Kappan had Covid and his health deteriorated. The SC had then asked the UP Police to shift him to AIIMS. When his mother was ailing, we requested the SC to allow him to visit his mother,” said M Prashanth, vice-president, KUWJ.

“The habeas corpus petition was then settled asking us to go through the proper channel and approach the lower court,” Prashanth said.

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“After the habeas corpus petition was settled, the Mathura court was approached. The lower court rejected Kappan’s bail application,” Manikandan added. The Mathura court rejected the bail application in October 2021, Prashanth said.

“The Uttar Pradesh Police was not ready to give the full chargesheet to Kappan. We then made a special application in the Mathura court that it is the basic right of the accused to get the chargesheet. A bail petition can be moved in the High Court only based on the chargesheet. It was only in January 2022 that the bail application in the High Court could be moved,” he said. Kappan had, by then, been moved from Mathura to jail in Lucknow, he added. The High Court rejected his bail application and Kappan moved the Supreme Court, Prashanth said.

“We have been arguing for his bail and the basic rights of journalists. For that purpose, the only option was to move legally,” Manikandan said.

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The KUWJ is an organisation of Kerala journalists. The members of the KUWJ are working journalists in Kerala and those at media organisations that have their head offices in Kerala and are working in State capitals and in Delhi. Going by the KUWJ’s website, objectives of the union include “to strive for the betterment of the working conditions of journalists” and “to strive for the freedom of the press and all democratic rights of the people”.

First published on: 09-09-2022 at 07:31:45 pm
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