'She keeps asking about her son': Kerala journalist jailed in UP waits to visit his ailing mother

Siddique Kappan was arrested on October 5, 2020, while on his way to Hathras to report on the brutal gangrape of a Dalit girl.

ByGladwin Emmanuel
'She keeps asking about her son': Kerala journalist jailed in UP waits to visit his ailing mother
Anubhooti Gupta
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Delhi-based journalist from Kerala, Siddique Kappan, who is lodged in a prison in Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura, is awaiting a nod from the Supreme Court to visit his ailing mother.

Siddique last saw his bed-ridden mother, Kadija Kutty, when the apex court allowed him to make a 10-minute video call on January 28.

However, due to her critical condition, she was unable to respond or even look at the screen of the mobile phone. According to his wife Raihana, he has been worried about his mother since then.

“He saw the condition his mother was in and he is heartbroken,” she said.

“When ikka’s call came, we tried to wake her up so she could see her son. But her condition was so bad she couldn't even realise that her son was on the phone,” Raihana added.

Kadija is 90 years old. She underwent a major operation in 2020 and has not been keeping well since. She was hospitalised on January 22 but was discharged after a week as doctors said there is little they could do for her anymore. “She keeps asking about her son,” Raihana said.

At present, Kadiya stays with her elder son at Vengara in Malappuram district of Kerala. Raihana visits her frequently.

Siddique, 41, a regular contributor for Malayalam news outlet Azhimukham, was arrested on October 5 while on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the brutal gangrape and murder of a Dalit girl.

He was travelling with three others – Ateeq-ur-Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam – in a car when they were stopped by the police at the Hathras toll plaza and detained. The police seized their mobile phones, laptop and allegedly, some literature which “could have an impact on peace and order”.

They were accused of planning to “foment trouble” and booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal provisions.

Raihana said that Siddique was able to contact her only 18 days after his arrest. He was allowed to call home once a week. Later, he was allotted Rs 100 a month to make daily phone calls, lasting about two minutes each, to her.

Siddique and Raihana have three children: two sons and a daughter. The eldest son is in Class 12, while their other son is in Class 7 and the daughter in Class 2.

The Kerala Union of Working Journalists moved the Supreme Court seeking interim bail of five days for Siddique to help meet his ailing mother. “An application for an interim bail was filed on his behalf before the apex court on Friday," Siddique’s advocate Wills Mathew said.

A medical certificate issued by Dr P Suresh Kumar of Vengara Medical Centre along with Kadija’s photographs was submitted before the court to affirm that she was suffering from uncontrolled diabetes that has led to reduced food intake and general debility, he said.

Siddique informed the court that he is ready and willing to undergo a narco or any other scientific test to prove his innocence, and is prepared to furnish all the details of his income, expenditure, loans, etc, including that of his family members, Mathew added. He had earlier alleged that Siddique was tortured in prison.

The KUWJ has denied that Siddique has any connection with the Popular Front of India, as claimed by the Uttar Pradesh government. Siddique was only trying to do his duty as a reporter, said KP Reji, president of the KUWJ.

In the past, Siddique was linked to the PFI but he sent a legal notice to the persons who made those allegations, Reji said, adding that the KUWJ had asked Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath to release the journalist soon after he was arrested. Siddique is secretary of the KUWJ.

Adityanath’s government has demanded a ban on the PFI for allegedly funding nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

KUWJ has termed the arrest “unlawful and malicious prosecution”. The union submitted before the court that, in its first affidavit filed on November 20, 2020, the Uttar Pradesh government asserted that Siddique was the “office secretary” of the PFI. However, the second affidavit, filed on December 9, 2020, merely stated that he was “in touch with the officials of PFI”.

Further, Siddique was arrested for a bailable offence. But grave offences under the UAPA were added in the FIR only later. The FIR makes out no offence and is itself arising out of a “criminal conspiracy”, Mathew said.

The union maintains that the state government filed a “misleading affidavit, justifying the unlawful detention and malicious prosecution of Siddique”.

KUWJ stated that it was disturbing that bail was denied when he was first produced before the magistrate, even though he was charged under bailable offences. Further, the judicial magistrate of Mathura passed on October 16, 2020, refusing permission for Siddique to meet his lawyers. These “disturbing trends” require intervention from the apex court, they said.

Raihana had urged Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to intervene and ensure the release of her husband. She protested in front of the state secretariat demanding her husband's release in January. She had also met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, seeking his intervention to secure her husband’s release.

Also Read : Journalist Siddique Kappan: Hearing deferred to next week, court unhappy with 'unfair reporting'
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