ILNS: The Editors Guild of India on Monday expressed its consternation at the “inhuman treatment” being meted out to journalist Siddique Kappan, who has been in custody since October 2020 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act (UAPA), for trying to report on the rape and death of a Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.
A joint statement issued by EGI President Seema Mustafa, General Secretary Sanjay Kapoor and Treasurer Anant Nath said, “The Editors Guild of India is deeply disturbed by the reports of inhuman treatment being meted out to journalist Siddique Kappan, who has been in custody since October 2020, under the draconian UAPA, for trying to report on the rape and death of a Dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.
“His 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. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ajay Mohan Bisht (Yogi Adityanath) has been ignoring the demands from his family and the civil society for fair treatment of the journalist.
“It is further shocking that the Supreme Court 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 Editors Guild of India had written a letter to the Chief Minister of UP in November 2020, highlighting several instances of state persecution and violence against journalists, including that of Kappan. Since then, the situation has only worsened. Recently, the CM threatened to seize the property of anyone, who reported on the paucity of oxygen in hospitals in the state. Such declamations have a chilling effect on media freedom, at a time when there is urgent need for objective reporting and accountability on the worsening pandemic.
“EGI demands that Siddique Kappan be given proper medical treatment at the earliest and that he be treated with dignity. The Guild also urges the Supreme Court to urgently take up the pending writ petition and give him a fair trial,” it added.