Delhi-based journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested a year ago on charges of sedition while on his way to Hathras following the murder of a Dalit woman, did not write like a “responsible” journalist, “only and only reports to incite Muslims”, and also wrote to “sympathise with Maoists and Communists”, the UP Special Task Force (STF) is learnt to have stated in the chargesheet filed against him.
The 5,000-page chargesheet includes a case diary note, dated January 23, 2021, in which the investigating officer highlights portions from 36 articles written by Kappan for a Malayalam media house — on the Nizamuddin Markaz gathering after the Covid outbreak, anti-CAA protests, Northeast Delhi riots, the Ram temple in Ayodhya and the chargesheet against Sharjeel Imam who was jailed on sedition charges.
Referring to one of these articles “written during the CAA protests in AMU,” the note states: “In the writing, the Muslims have been portrayed as victims (who) were beaten up by police and were asked to go to Pakistan. It is evident from the writing that it has been done to incite Muslims.”
The note concludes: “These writings of Siddique Kappan, to a great extent, can be classified as communal. During riots, taking the name of a minority and talking about events related to them can incite sentiments. Responsible journalists do not do such communal reporting. Kappan only and only reports to incite Muslims, which is a hidden agenda of PFI (Popular Front of India). Some stories were written to sympathise with Maoists and Communists.”
The chargesheet was filed in April this year, months after Kappan, PFI members Atikur Rahman and Masud Ahmad, and their driver Alam, were arrested in Mathura on October 5 last year while on their way to Hathras. They were booked under UAPA and on charges of sedition.
The STF has claimed that the PFI wanted to create unrest and a riot-like situation in the garb of a protest demanding justice for the Hathras victim, who had been allegedly assaulted and gangraped leading to her death in a Delhi hospital — and whose hurried cremation by the UP administration on the night of September 29, 2020, led to nationwide outrage.
According to the case diary note, the articles are part of data obtained from Kappan’s laptop after it had been sent to the forensic laboratory.
In the note, police claim that Kappan worked as a “think tank” of the PFI. It alleges that he was attempting to publish “anti-Hindu” stories in the Malayalam media and had plans to inflame the Delhi riots. Police also accuse him of trying to hide the death of Intelligence Bureau officer Ankit Sharma and head constable Ratan Lal, and downplaying the alleged role of suspended AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, in the Delhi riots.
The investigating agency also alleges that Kappan, through his writing, has tried to deny terrorism carried out by the banned organisation SIMI.
Police have also submitted statements from two eyewitnesses who claim that Kappan and Rahman were trying to incite a crowd against the administration, the day after the victim’s body had been cremated.
“A lot of crowd had gathered because entry to the village had been barred due to the presence of SIT. There were some people who were trying to incite the crowd into taking action against the Thakurs. Two people in the crowd were making speeches and distributing money. I identify them as Atiqur Rahman and Siddique Kappan as they had told me their names,” police quote a resident of a neighbouring village as having told them.
Another person from the same village, who claims to be an eyewitness, has recorded a similar statement with the UP STF, documents show.
The lawyer for the accused, however, said they were not even in the region at this time, and were only arrested on their way to Hathras, two days later. “These are dubious eyewitness statements since the accused had not been able to reach the village in the first place and were arrested on the way to it,” said Madhuvan Dutt, the counsel for the accused.
The STF has also submitted hundreds of pages containing articles in Malayalam and their translations. Call detail records and details of transactions to accounts of PFI office bearers have also been submitted to highlight allegedly dubious funding to create unrest, the documents show.
A statement by Mant Toll Plaza in-charge Gyanendra Singh Solanki, which is part of the chargesheet, states: “The accused were arrested during checking on the highway. The accused said they wanted to get justice for the victim and did not stop despite repeated requests. Except the driver Alam, the persons had 1,717 pamphlets which had details of how to cause caste based violence and create a massive law and order situation. Besides Alam, the three persons are found to be active members of PFI’s associate Campus Front of India (CFI). The accused were part of several WhatsApp groups. The accused had been directed to create tension in Hathras area in connection with the murder and gang-rape.”
Last week, an order was issued by a Lucknow court to transfer Rahman to AIIMS in Delhi following deterioration in his health. The case against the four is being heard in a Mathura court and charges are yet to be framed.