Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, who has been in jail for more than two years now, was denied bail in a money laundering case by a Lucknow court today.
Mr Kappan, who faces two cases in Uttar Pradesh, was granted bail by the Supreme Court last month in the other case where he was charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) or the anti-terror law.
The journalist was awaiting a bail order in the money laundering case filed by the Enforcement Directorate as an order in his favour would have facilitated his release from a Lucknow jail.
The Enforcement Directorate had named Mr Kappan in its chargesheet in the case in February 2021. The chargesheet – which referred to Mr Kappan as a journalist “associated with PFI” – was filed against the Popular Front of India and its student wing Campus Front of India (CFI) on money laundering charges claiming its members wanted to “incite communal riots and spread terror” in the aftermath of Hathras case.
The detailed order from the Lucknow court rejecting the bail has not yet been made public.
The journalist was arrested in October 2020 while he was on his way to Hathras – nearly 400 km from Uttar Pradesh’s capital city – where a 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped and murdered. The police claimed he had links with the Popular Front of India or PFI and was a part of a conspiracy to instigate violence.
He was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Information Technology (IT) Act.
The Supreme Court had questioned the evidence against Mr Kappan while granting him bail in the terror case. “What was found with Kappan? No explosives were found, the material was not found with him but in the car and they weren’t used for propagating,” Chief Justice UU Lalit had said.
The Hathras case drew massive outrage and protests over allegations that the state administration and the police were involved in a cover-up. The young woman died days after she was gang-raped on September 14, 2020. Later, the UP police cremated her in the middle of the night, in the absence of her family.
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