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Journalist Siddique Kappan Is Behind Bars For Doing His Job. Why?

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“The sole aim of journalism should be service,” said Mahatma Gandhi and despite this saying being an old one, it stands true throughout the years, and has to be kept alive no matter what happens.

This story about Siddique Kappan is not new, but I purposely waited for some time to post this because this is the only way to not forget about him.

Siddique Kappan was allowed to step out of prison once, to meet his dying mother.. Photo credit: PTI, via TOI.

Otherwise, if people do not talk about the issue when there is nothing going on in the news, then we put the media in charge of deciding what issues are meant to be spoken about, and when exactly they have to catch the public’s attention.

The timeline of Siddique Kappan being in prison has crossed a twelve-month threshold. And, the recent 5,000-page chargesheet filed by the Uttar Pradesh Police in the court, accuses Kappan of writing like an irresponsible journalist.

Arrested En Route To Hathras

He is a Malayalam journalist who was charged with sedition and conspiracy to incite violence, when he was on his way to Hathras last year, to report the murder and gang rape of a Dalit woman by Thakur men.

Police said the journalist’s writings “portrayed Muslims as victims”, but it might as well be stated that his was a way of writing that gave a voice to the minority.

The chargesheet stated, “Siddique’s writings, to a great extent, can be classified as communal.” It further stated, “During riots, taking the name of a minority and talking about  events related to them can incite sentiments.”

“Responsible journalists do not do such communal reporting,” it noted. The cops think Kappan writes only and only to incite Muslims, which is a hidden agenda of the PFI (Popular Front of India). Also, he allegedly wrote some stories to sympathise with Maoists and communists.

Is Writing A Crime?

Now, to say that he is associated with the PFI is foolhardy to begin with, let alone place it in a chargesheet. Because, the PFI is not a banned organisation in India and it is no crime to be a member of it. To top the cake with icing, the PFI put out a statement saying:

“UP government affidavit was a malicious attempt to disrupt freedom to innocents… Its claim that Kappan was a Popular Front office secretary is an outright lie. He has never been a secretary in any Popular Front office.”

The essence of journalism is to present everything as it is, to the masses—reporting the facts without manipulation based on personal beliefs and opinions. What Kappan wrote worked towards highlighting the voices and stories of the marginalised, which would otherwise go unnoticed.

Writing as a service should not be criminalised. What Kappan is facing is not something unique in today’s India, which is gradually started moving towards radicalisation.

A responsible journalist is someone who gives voice to the voiceless regardless of creed, but in the radical India of today, it just so happens to be a communal affair.

Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied

What is inhumane is Kappan being chained to the bed while he was sick and recovering from Covid-19 in the hospital. It is important to note that he is facing many issues including mental health ailments and diabetes.

It is a common practice to chain culprits to their beds, but that only happens with those who are proven to be guilty. In Kappan’s case, he is still going through the process of trial.

I don’t mean to justify chaining culprits (according to criminal justice teachings). As a society, we need to cut some slack.

What has happened in Kappan’s case is nothing but a planned and systematically curated, religion-based discrimination. It stands parallel to the majoritarian reforms. I want to hint at those personalities who openly blurt out statements in order to disrupt communal harmony.

While we wait for the court to decide on Siddique’s case, let’s keep in mind that justice delayed is justice denied.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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