By Anadolu staff
NEW DELHI (AA) – A Muslim journalist who was arrested two years ago on charges of conspiring to incite riots in a northern Indian state walked out of jail on Thursday.
Siddique Kappan, who worked for a regional Malayalam news website, was arrested in Uttar Pradesh state in October 2020 while on his way to report on the death of a lower-caste Dalit teenager who had been gang raped days before.
The state authorities alleged that Kappan and his co-accused were traveling to Hathras with the purpose to disrupt the area's peace. They also claimed that he had close ties to the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organization accused by the federal government of having ties to "terrorist" outfits, which the organization denies.
The PFI was banned by the Indian government last year.
Kappan was also booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
Kappan walked out of jail months after the Supreme Court granted him bail in September last year. He, however, was not released because he was required for an investigation in a money laundering case, which was investigated by India's Enforcement Directorate.
In December 2022, the journalist was also granted bail in a money laundering case.
"I am feeling good. But, this is justice delayed and half-baked justice. The two years were very tough," he told local broadcaster NDTV after his release in the morning.
"Journalism is not a crime," he added.
On Sept. 14, 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit girl was gang raped in the state's Hathras area, resulting in serious injuries and her death two weeks later. The incident triggered widespread outrage and protests across the country.
The caste system in India divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Outside of this are Dalits, who are regarded as "untouchables" or socially excluded from upper-caste Hindus.
Many Indian activists believe that the media in the country, which was once considered "free," is under attack as many journalists have faced arrests in recent years.
India was ranked 150th in the World Press Freedom Index 2022, down eight places from the previous year.