Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has requested the intervention of his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Adityanath in the treatment of jailed journalist Siddique Kappan.
Kappan is "facing severe health problems", "diabetes and heart ailments", Vijayan wrote yesterday. "After getting infected with Covid-19, he has been admitted to KVM Hospital, Mathura. He is reportedly being kept chained to his bed even when his health condition is precarious."
Vijayan urged Adityanath to "intervene in the matter so that a humane treatment is accorded" to Kappan. "I request you to make it sure that he gets all medical facilities."
Simultaneously, 11 Kerala MPs wrote to new Chief Justice of India NV Ramana asking for an "urgent hearing" in Kappan's case.
"His condition is serious and he needs better treatment," the letter said. "We therefore implore you to save Shri Kappan's life by giving him an urgent hearing in the matter requesting for issue of necessary orders to shift him from Mathura Medical College Hospital to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi."
"After hospitalising, he was tested positive for Covid," she said. "He called me today from somebody’s phone. He told me that the hospital authorities are not allowing him to go to the toilet. He is handcuffed to the bed and is not allowed to move. He is urinating in a plastic bottle. He is a human being. He has to go to the toilet too, right?"
Kappan was arrested on October 5 last year while on his way to Hathras to report on the gangrape and death of a Dalit girl. He was booked under the UAPA and charges of sedition and has been in jail ever since.
On April 23, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking his transfer to either AIIMS or Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. Kappan "collapsed in the bathroom with serious injuries" on April 20, the plea said, and later tested positive for Covid.
Statement from the Editors Guild
The Editors Guild of India also issued a statement today demanding that Kappan receive "proper medical treatment at the earliest and that he be treated with dignity". The guild said that it "should stir the conscience of the nation that a journalist is being treated in this cruel manner and being denied basic rights".
"The Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Ajay Mohan Bisht (Yogi Adityanath), has been ignoring the demands from his family and the civil society for the fair treatment of the journalist," the statement said. "It is further shocking that the Supreme Court has not yet intervened in this case to ensure a fair trial of the journalist, even though the habeas corpus petition challenging his arrest has been pending before the court for the past six months. All of this goes against the basic canons of a constitutional democracy where independent journalistic enterprises need to be protected rather than repressed."