CPJ calls on Indian authorities to release journalist Siddique Kappan, drop all charges

CPJ calls on Indian authorities to release journalist Siddique Kappan, drop all charges

NEW YORK, Jun 16 (APP): The Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent watchdog body, Wednesday called on Indian authorities to drop all charges against journalist Siddique Kappan and release him immediately.

“The Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) court’s decision to drop the breach of peace charge against Indian journalist Siddique Kappan suggests that police officers’ accusations about him were bogus from the start,” Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator, in Washington, DC., said in a statement.

“The Uttar Pradesh government should do the right thing by withdrawing all the remaining charges and setting Kappan free at once,” he added.

The Mathura court Wednesday dropped the breach of peace charge, which police had originally filed following Kappan’s arrest in October 2020, according to CPJ research and news reports. The court noted that police failed to complete their investigation into the charge within six months, as required by law, according to those reports.

In April, while in custody on that charge, authorities also charged Kappan with sedition, rioting, and criminal conspiracy, as well as under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Information Technology Act, relating to his alleged membership in the Popular Front of India Islamic group, which the journalist denies, according to news reports.

Kappan’s lawyer Wills Matthew told CPJ in a phone interview that the state was still pursuing the other charges, and investigating claims that the journalist violated the country’s anti-terror law.

The CPJ said it texted Uttar Pradesh Police Director-General Hitesh Awasthy for comment but did not receive any reply.