New Delhi, June 16, 2021 – The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed the decision by a court in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura district to drop a breach of peace charge against journalist Siddique Kappan, and urged authorities to drop all other charges against him and release him immediately.
“The Mathura court’s decision to drop the breach of peace charge against Indian journalist Siddique Kappan suggests that police officers’ accusations about him were bogus from the start,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C. “The Uttar Pradesh government should do the right thing by withdrawing all the remaining charges and setting Kappan free at once.”
The Mathura court today dropped the breach of peace charge, which police had originally filed following Kappan’s arrest in October 2020, according to CPJ research and various news reports. The court noted that police failed to complete their investigation into the charge within six months, as required by law, according to those reports.
In April, while in custody on that charge, authorities also charged Kappan with sedition, rioting, and criminal conspiracy, as well as under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Information Technology Act, relating to his alleged membership in the Popular Front of India Islamic group, which the journalist denies, according to news reports.
Kappan’s lawyer Wills Matthew told CPJ in a phone interview that the state is still pursuing the other charges, and is investigating claims that the journalist violated the country’s anti-terror law. CPJ texted Uttar Pradesh Police Director-General Hitesh Awasthy for comment but did not receive any reply.