Indian journalist Siddique Kappan, who spent two and half years in jail without trial, has walked out of prison more than a month after he was granted bail by a court in the northern Indian city of Prayagraj in a money laundering case.
He was initially charged under various sections of the Indian penal code. Anti-terror and money laundering charges were pressed later. He was granted bail in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case by the Supreme Court in September.
“I am happy to walk out of jail after almost 2.5 years,” 43-year-old Kappan told Al Jazeera. “I am hopeful to defend my part and prove my innocence.”
Journalist rights watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), welcomed Kappan’s release and demanded that all charges be dropped against him.
Kappan was arrested in October 2020 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where he had travelled to report on a high-profile gang-rape case. He and three others, including his driver, were accused of belonging to a Muslim organisation and eventually charged with conspiracy to incite violence.
His driver Mohammad Alam was granted bail last month while two others remain behind bars.
Kappan has maintained his innocence and says that he had only travelled from his home state of Kerala to do his duties as a journalist.
“I had only gone to report. What is wrong with that? I was only carrying two pens and a notepad,” he said about the case of a young Dalit woman gang-raped by upper-caste Hindu men in Hathras city in Uttar Pradesh.
Source Al Jazeera
BDST: 1521 HRS, FAB 02, 2023