Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who was arrested by Uttar Pradesh police while on a reporting assignment to Hathras, walked out of prison cells on Thursday, after spending 850 days in jail.
He was released from jail around 9.15 AM, Jailor of Lucknow District Jail Rajendra Singh said. On Wednesday, two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each were submitted to a special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court in Lucknow.
“I have come out of jail after 28 months. I want to thank the media for supporting me. False allegations were put against me. I am happy to be out now,” Kappan said, as quoted by ANI.
Siddique Kappan arrested in 2020
The journalist was arrested on October 5, 2020, along with three others while en route Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, where a Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped and killed by four upper-caste Thakur men on September 14, 2020. She died on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital while undergoing treatment.
Her cremation stoked major controversy as it took place in the dead of the night near her home on September 30, with her family alleging that local police hurriedly conducted her last rites.
Kappan and the others were accused of trying to instigate violence and start a caste-based riot over the death of the woman. Police had alleged that Kappan had links with the now-banned Popular Front of India and charged him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and sections of the Indian Penal Code.
ED files case under PMLA against Kappan
The Enforcement Directorate had filed a case against him in February 2021 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), claiming that he and the three others had received money from the now-banned Popular Front of India (PFI) to “incite riots”.
The Supreme Court had granted him bail on September 9 in the UAPA case, and the Allahabad High Court had granted him bail in the money laundering case on December 23. However, due to bureaucratic delays, he was still in jail. On Wednesday, district and sessions judge Sanjay Shanker Pandey directed the Lucknow prison superintendent to release Kappan if he was not wanted in any other case.