LUCKNOW: After 41 days of being granted bail by the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court in connection with a case lodged against him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan walked free from Lucknow jail after an incarceration of 28 months on Thursday morning.
“I have come out of jail after 28 months. I want to thank the media for supporting me. False allegations were put against me. I am happy to be out now,” said the journalist while talking to media persons after his release.
A sessions court in Lucknow signed the release orders for Kappan's bail case.
On September 9, 2022, the Supreme Court granted bail to Kappan in the case lodged against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act. However, he remained in prison due to a pending PMLA case.
A resident of Malappuram in Kerala, Kappan was on his way to cover the gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras on October 5, 2020, when he was arrested from Mathura toll plaza, along with three others.
Kappan along with his aides was accused of sedition and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Activities (UAPA) on terror charges for allegedly conspiring with the banned Popular Front of India (PFI). The police claimed that he was heading towards Hathras to incite caste conflagration and unrest.
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As per the FIR, Kappan was booked under Section 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, etc) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Later, Enforcement Directorate (ED) also slapped a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against Kappan in February 2022.
Kappan, who had been working as a reporter for Malayalam news website Azhimukham and held the post of secretary in the Delhi Unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), was denied bail multiple times, but he continued to plead non-guilty maintaining that he was innocent and was being framed.
However, after being released from Lucknow jail, the Kerala journalist reiterated his resolve to continue his fight against draconian laws.
"They kept me in jail even after I got bail. I don't know who's benefiting from my being in jail," he told media persons. Kappan had to be released on Wednesday but the judge of the Special ED Court was busy with a bar council election. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)