Earlier, Siddique Kappan was allowed to speak to his mother via a video call. (File)
Siddique Kappan, the Kerala journalist arrested on his way to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh to report on the alleged gang-rape of a Dalit woman, has been granted bail by the Supreme Court for five days, with conditions, to visit his 90-year-old mother, said to be on her deathbed.
During the visit to Kerala, he can’t speak to the media or post on social media and he cannot meet anyone except relatives, doctors and anybody connected to his mother’s health, the Supreme Court said. He will be escorted by cops to Kerala from UP and it will be the responsibility of the UP police to ensure his travel and return.
Last month, he was allowed to speak to his mother via a video call but he reportedly could not speak to her since she was unconscious at a hospital in his hometown in Kerala’s Malappuram.
The court allowed the call after lawyer Kapil Sibal argued that Mr Kappan’s mother was ill and had asked to speak to her son. “I don’t mind the court dismissing it (the petition) but hear us. Mr Kappan’s mother is unconscious… we filed an application. Before his mother passes away, allow video conferencing so that he can talk to her,” Mr Sibal had argued.
Mr Kappan and three others were heading to Hathras to report on the alleged gang-rape of the woman – who died later in hospital – when they were arrested and charged under a law on terrorism. The UP police said they acted on a tip about “suspicious people”.
In the FIR (First Information Report), the police used a section of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that deals with “raising funds for a terrorist act”. Mr Kappan has since been in jail in Mathura.
The Kerala Union of Working Journalists, which requested bail for Mr Kappan, has denied the allegations against him and has alleged that he was tortured in jail.
The UP government opposed the bail request, accusing Mr Kappan of attempting to spark trouble while pretending to be a journalist from a defunct newspaper. Investigations had revealed “shocking findings”, the state claimed.
Soon after his arrest, the union had approached the Supreme Court alleging that Mr Kappan’s detention is “illegal” and had asked that the UP government produce him in court.
The UP administration’s handling of the Hathras case was widely criticized. The police were accused of being slow to respond to the woman’s complaint. After she died in hospital of her wounds, the police also controversially took away her body, drove to her village and cremated it at 2 AM in the absence of her family.