Friday, Oct 07, 2022

‘Don’t Take Freedom Of Ordinary Citizens’: Jailed Journalist Siddique Kappan’s Daughter On Independence Day

Journalist Siddique Kappan, a reporter for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham, was arrested along with three others in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras to report the gang-rape of a 19-year old Dalit woman.

Siddique Kappan
Jailed journalist Siddique Kappan.(File photo) File Photo

As India celebrated its 76th Independence Day, the nine-year old daughter of Malayali journalist Siddique Kappan -- booked and jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the Hathras conspiracy case -- said that ordinary citizens' freedom be not taken away. 

"I am the daughter of a journalist who has been left to languish in jail, by being denied the basic civil rights available to all Indian citizens," is how the nine-year old began her Independence day speech at her school on Monday, a video of which has gone viral on social media.

In her little over two minute-long speech, she said that every Indian has the right to resist or oppose those asking them to leave, they have the choice to decide what to speak, eat or which religion to profess and all this is possible due to the struggles and sacrifices of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bhagat Singh and countless others. 

"Remembering all those freedom fighters, my request is not to take away the freedom and rights of the ordinary citizens," she said. 

She also said that India's pride should not be surrendered before anyone.

In her speech, she further said that there was still unrest in the country as it was evident from the violence on the basis of religion, color or politics and said that the same should be "rooted out with love and unity". 

"Even the shadow of any unrest should be wiped out. We all should live as one life and should make every effort to take India to the top. We should dream of a better tomorrow without any differences and conflicts," she said. 

"As India steps into its 76th Independence day, on this special occasion, as an Indian with unwavering pride and authority, I would like to say 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'," she said.

Kappan, a reporter for Malayalam news portal Azhimukham and secretary of the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), was arrested along with three others in October 2020 while on his way to Hathras to report the gang-rape of a 19-year old Dalit woman. 

Police had claimed that the accused were trying to disturb law and order in Hathras. They had also alleged that the accused had links with the Popular Front of India (PFI). 

Earlier this month, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court rejected his bail application. 

Prior to that a Mathura court had rejected Kappan's bail plea after which he had approached the high court.

Kappan and others were charged under Sections 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) of Indian Penal Code and Sections 65, 72 and 75 of the Information Technology Act.   

The rape victim had died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after her alleged rape by four men from her village on September 14, 2020. She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village.  

Her family members claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without her consent and that they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time.

(With PTI inputs)