NEW DELHI—The Uttar Pradesh police have slapped sedition and terrorism charges under the dreadful Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested with three others, while they were on their way to Boolgarhi village in Hathras district to meet the family of the 18-9-year-old Dalit woman who was alleged gangraped and murdered.
The police, in the FIR, have applied Section 17 of UAPA that deals with “raising funds for a terrorist act”.
The three others with Siddique were Atiqur Rahman of Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed of Bahraich and Alam of Rampur, all members of the Campus Front of India.
Siddique was going to Hathras to cover the developments in the village to which the Dalit victim belonged.
The police said that the four arrested were members of the Popular Front of India(PFI), an organisation for which UP government had recommended for a ban during the anti-CAA protest in the state. However, PFI general secretary, in a video statement, has denied that any of them are members of PFI.
According to the FIR, the four were conspiring to disturb peace in Hathras.
They have been booked under Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, and section 17 (punishment for raising funds for terrorist act) and 14 (punishment for unlawful activities) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
They have also been booked under section 65 (tampering with computer source documents), 72 (punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service) and 76 (punishment for violation of privacy) of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008.
The police have also seized their mobile phone and laptops.
Siddique, who used to write for Kerala-based website azhimukham.com, was secretary of the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists.
Meanwhile, KUWJ has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath seeking release of Siddique.
In the letter to PM, the union said Siddique was going to Hathras to perform his duties as a journalist.
They have also filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court seeking his production in the court and his immediate release.
The Press Association and Indian Women Press Corps, on Wednesday, described the arrest of Siddique as a bid to “silence” the media. Contesting the claims of the UP police that Siddique was a member of PFI, IWPC and the Press Association said that UP police had failed to provide any evidence of him being a member of PFI.