Amid reports of jailed Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan testing positive for Covid-19, The Editors Guild of India (EGI) urged the Uttar Pradesh government to immediately provide Kappan with proper medical treatment.
Kappan was arrested in October 2020 while travelling from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh to report the alleged gang-rape and killing of a 19-year Dalit woman in Hathras.
Last week, reports emerged that the journalist had been admitted to KVM Hospital in Mathura for Covid-19 treatment and that he had reportedly been kept chained to his bed even when his health condition had become precarious.
Responding to these reports, the EGI expressed shock and said that the treatment being meted out to Kappan must “stir the conscience of the nation”.
“His (Kappan’s) wife has alleged that her husband has been tied to a bed and is neither able to take food nor access toilet, while undergoing treatment at a Mathura Hospital for Covid-19. This is shocking and should stir the conscience of the nation that a journalist is being treated in this cruel manner and being denied basic rights,” the EGI said in a press statement.
The media body further claimed that the Uttar Pradesh government has been ignoring the demands from Kappan’s family seeking fair treatment for the journalist.
“It is further shocking that the Supreme Court of India has yet not intervened in this case to ensure a fair trial of the journalist, even though the Habeas Corpus petition challenging his arrest has been pending before the court for the past six months. All of this goes against the basic canons of a constitutional democracy where independent journalistic enterprises need to be protected rather than repressed,” the EGI said urging the apex court to urgently take up Kappan’s pending writ petition and give him a fair trial.