Journalist Siddique Kappan was released on bail last week after spending 800 days in jail. He was arrested on his way to Hathras to cover the story of the rape and murder of a Dalit girl. As a journalist, Kappan says he has reported on the ‘UAPA’ beat and was prepared to be in jail for at least five years without trial – “I know the conviction rate, how UAPA works, how long someone can stay in jail if you’re slapped with UAPA…I was mentally prepared.” Kappan spoke at length of the questioning he was subjected to at the time of his arrest – “why did I study in Jamia? How many times have I been to Pakistan? How many languages do I speak?” He says he has still not read the charge sheet and that he has never been to Hathras yet he is accused of ‘distributing money and instigating violence there’.
‘Regional, not religious discrimination’
During his time in jail, Kappan says he faced hostility for being from Kerala. He says his incarceration had little to do with being a Muslim, and more about his regional identity. “The general perception seemed to be that ‘oh you’re from Kerala, you’re educated, you are Leftists, you eat beef…’ and so on.” He says his role in organising a protest against the 48-hour ban on Asianet and MediaOne at Jantar Mantar might have put him in the administration’s bad books.
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