Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, arrested on terror charges while on his way to UP's Hathras to report on a Dalit woman's rape and murder two years ago, got bail today in a money laundering case from the High Court.
He had already got bail in the terror case — filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and other related laws — from the Supreme Court in September, but remained in jail in Lucknow as he'd got no relief so far in the related case filed by the Enforcement Directorate in 2021.
Earlier this month, a court in Lucknow had framed charges against him and six others under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which meant the trial could finally begin. The other accused are KA Rauf Sherif, Atikur Rahman, Masud Ahmad, Mohammad Alam, Abdul Razzak and Ashraf Khadir.
The police have claimed that these men are members of the since-banned organisation Popular Front of India and its student wing, Campus Front of India (CFI). The main allegation is that he was going to Hathras on directions of the PFI with an intention to spread communal discord.
Siddique Kappan and his lawyers have repeatedly denied any involvement in terror acts or financing, and argued that he was traveling to Hathras only for journalistic work.
Three months ago, when the Supreme Court gave him bail in the terror case, Opposition parties and journalist groups welcomed the order. They allege that Mr Kappan was made a "soft target" by UP's BJP government for being a Muslim.
Mr Kappan along and three of the co-accused — Atikur Rehman, Mohammad Alam and Masud Ahmad — were arrested by the UP police in Mathura in October 2020 while on the way to Hathras.
It was days after a Dalit woman there died after she was allegedly gang-raped. She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village by the district administration, sparking protests and widespread condemnation of Yogi Adityanath's BJP government.