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Journalist and three others, arrested on their way to Hathras, booked for sedition in U.P.

Journalist Siddique Kappan and three others are escorted to a court in Mathura on October 7, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday booked journalist Siddique Kappan from Kerala and three others, who were arrested on Monday on their way to Hathras, for sedition and other charges. 

The four were produced before a local court, which sent them in judicial remand. “Further action will be taken after collection of evidence in the investigation,” said Mathura SSP Gaurav Grover.

An FIR lodged against them at the Mant police station charges them under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 14 and 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967; Sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act, for promoting enmity between groups and outraging religious feelings. Section 17 of the UAPA deals with raising funds for terrorist acts. 

The four were taken into custody at a toll plaza in Mathura when they were travelling in a car from Delhi to Hathras, the police said. The car was stopped after the police found their activities “suspicious”.

Besides Mr. Kappan, a journalist working with Malayalam portals based in Delhi, the other three were identified as Ateeq-ur-Rehman of Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed of Bahraich and Alam of Rampur. While Mr. Ahmed and Rehman are research scholars, Mr. Alam was the driver of the car, said Ansar Indori, their lawyer.

In the FIR, sub-inspector Prabal Singh accuses the four of carrying pamphlets reading ‘Justice for Hathras Victim’ and moving towards the district to disrupt peace as part of a “big conspiracy”.

Website creation

The FIR alleged that they, along with unidentified others, were linked to a crime involving the creation of an Internet platform carrd.co and website named ‘justiceforhathras’ with the motive of gathering foreign funds to trigger caste riots.

The pamphlets recovered from the four, reading: ‘Am I not India’s Daughter, Made With Carrd’, could spread social discord and mass rebellion, the police said.

Police recovered six mobile phones and a laptop from the four.

The FIR stated that as per media reports, some “anti-social elements” were trying to trigger riots and spread caste tension and adversely impact communal harmony over the Hathras incident.

It said some people were gathering funds for spreading caste fear and triggering riots by planning events and protests.

The organisers of carrd.co were collecting foreign donations to trigger riots, the police said, adding that no legal procedure was followed in collecting these funds thus making their worthy of being seized.

“Such websites are evoking anti-national feelings among the youth”, the FIR stated and accused the platform of engaging in anti-constitutional activities.

The FIR said organisations and workers linked to the said website were using it to “spread rumours about the alleged gang rape incident” to raise funds and provoke caste violence and riots under the garb of providing justice. “Who created the website and with what goal, how much funds were so far collected and where have they been used would all be investigated”, police said.

4 linked to PFI: police

The police, after arresting the four persons, had claimed they were linked to the Popular Front of India (PFI), an outfit blamed by the State government for the violence during the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act last December.

The PFI said the attempt to link it to a conspiracy to incite caste or communal violence “is completely baseless and ridiculous”.

In a fresh statement, it said, “The new rounds of allegation against Popular Front are nothing but an attempt by the Uttar Pradesh government to divert the attention away from its failure to handle the Hathras rape case”.

CM’s warning

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who had said that those who don't like development wanted to trigger caste and communal riots, asked people to “recognise those faces doing politics on the body of a poor [Dalit girl]”.

“We won't let any conspiracy succeed and all the conspirators will be unmasked. We will take strong action against such elements who want to spread caste discord and anarchy, and disrupt development”, he said.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 9:31:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/malayalam-journalist-3-others-arrested-near-hathras-booked-under-sedition-law/article32791003.ece

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