Roop Rekha Verma is former acting vice chancellor of Lucknow University, a professor of philosophy and a social activist. She made news earlier this week when she agreed to stand surety for Siddique Kappan as a condition of his bail.
Kappan, a journalist from Kerala, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police while he was on his way to report on the brutal gangrape of a teenage Dalit girl by four upper caste men in Hathras nearly two years ago. Kappan was slapped with charges under the sedition law and the anti-terror law UAPA. The journalist was granted bail by the Supreme Court on September 9, but his lawyers couldn’t find residents of Uttar Pradesh who could stand surety for him, as required by the conditions of his bail. Until, that is, Verma came forward.
She speaks with Tanishka Sodhi about her decision to help Kappan, the consequences for dissent in this country, and her life’s journey. “In today's dark times, this much help is what every citizen has a claim of. I wouldn't have been able to face myself if I didn’t extend this small help," she says.
There’s an climate of fear in the country right now, she says, because of which it is difficult for people to speak up and speak out.
Verma, 79, has spent a lifetime fighting caste, gender and religious hatred, and she talks about what keeps her going.