"The UP government claims that the journalist has links with some groups but has not offered any proof in this regard."
New Delhi: The Press Association and the Indian Women Press Corps on Wednesday described the arrest of a Hathras bound journalist as the Uttar Pradesh government’s attempt to “silence” the media and demanded his immediate release.
Siddique Kappan and three others were arrested in Mathura while they were on their way to Hathras, where a Dalit woman was assaulted and allegedly gangraped on September 14. She died a fortnight later in a Delhi hospital.
Uttar Pradesh police on Monday said the four people had links with the Popular Front of India and its affiliate in Mathura.
“The UP government claims that the journalist has links with some groups but has not offered any proof in this regard,” the Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) and the Press Association said in a statement.
Condemning the arrest of Kappan, a contributor for a Kerala-based website, they pointed out that he was on his way to Hathras to report on the story.
His mobile phone and laptop were seized by the police, the statement said.
The state government had banned the entry of the media in Hathras for two days, denying journalists their right to report the story from Hathras, thereby violating the right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution, the IWPC and Press Association said.
Demanding Kappan’s immediate release and return of his equipment, they decried the “UP government’s attempt to silence the media and create an atmosphere of fear by the arrest of the journalist”.
The Press Association is a media body of accredited journalists, while the IWPC is an association of women journalists.
The PFI has been accused of funding protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the country earlier this year and the UP police had sought a ban on the outfit.
In a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) sought Kappan’s immediate release, saying he is “a senior Delhi-based journalist working for several Malayalam media houses, including azhimukham.com”.
The KUWJ also wrote a similar letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to order Kappan’s release.