Siddique Kappan, a 43-year-old Malayali journalist and Delhi unit secretary of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists was arrested near Mathura toll plaza on October 5th, 2020, with student activists Atikur Rahman and Masood Ahmad, and the cab’s driver, Mohammad Alam. He was en route to Hathras to report on the gang rape and murder of a Dalit girl (the Hathras case) by four upper-caste Thakur men in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh. Kappan was charged under various sections, including the UA(P)A and PMLA. He was released on bail on February 2nd, 2023, after spending 851 days in jail.
This is the transcript of the interview. It has been lightly edited for syntax and clarity.
Rejaz: Even in your case, they tried to link you with the Bhima Koregaon case and frame you as a Maoist. How do you see using the Maoist tag as a weapon to incarcerate human rights activists and journalists like Rupesh Kumar Singh?
Kappan: This is prevalent in every era, especially in the contemporary world, where journalists are framed as terrorists. Framing me as a Maoist was part of that. There is always an attempt to frame those who speak for Adivasis, Dalits, and Muslims and against the oppressors of the oppressed as Maoists. Read more
Fourth Drone Bomb Attack on Indigenous People in Bastar, Chhattisgarh
IndiaMatters UK / by over 60 international organisations and individual campaigners, activists and academics
Fourth Drone Bomb Attack on Indigenous People in Bastar, Chhattisgarh
Stop This State Terror Now!
Indigenous (Adivasi) people in Bijapur district of Bastar, in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, have been traumatised by yet another aerial bomb attack from the security forces which have been using drones to carry out these operations. Although the Indian Air Force is not officially deployed for combat in Chhattisgarh, the repeated use of aerial bombardment on civilian populations suggests a new dimension to the state terror being inflicted on the Adivasi population of Bastar for years.
… Social activists who have been speaking out against this injustice have also ended up in prisons … there are the well known sixteen democratic rights activists falsely implicated in what has come to be known as the Bhima Koregaon case. These sixteen were locked in prison between 2018 and 2020 on the basis of an essentially fabricated case prepared by the notorious National Investigative Agency against them under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Read full statement
India is shopping for a new spyware technology after it was revealed that government agencies misused Pegasus. Only if the people take to the streets can there be oversight of these agencies.
Last week, the Financial Times disclosed that the Indian government is making fresh efforts to procure spyware that has a lower footprint than NSO Group’s Pegasus to continue its surveillance of dissenters, opposition leaders and human rights activists. Read more
On November 28, 2018, A.P. Jithender Reddy, a former member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s parliament, introduced legislation protecting human rights activists…
In February, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention released an opinion, declaring Swamy’s detention arbitrary and his death “utterly preventable.” Many other activists including Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Anand Teltumbde, and Sudha Bharadwaj stand accused of similar offenses. Read more
Criminalisation of passive membership under the UAPA
The running motif of the recent Supreme Court judgment on the UAPA (and POTA and TADA) is that under the guise of sovereignty and integrity of the nation, the Parliament can do anything and pass any law. The judgment is likely to lead to more arrests and denial of bail, and further stigmatise dissidents and their work. It virtually sanctions a police State.
Additionally, the First Schedule to the UAPA, which lists banned terrorist organisations, mentions in many entries that their ‘frontal organisations’ are also banned. These frontal organisations are not notified anywhere and suddenly make their first appearance only in chargesheets. For instance, in the Bhima Koregaon cases, the chargesheets filed by national investigation agencies implicate persons on the basis of their membership of frontal organisations such as the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights and the Indian Association of Peoples Lawyers, among others. These organisations were never notified as unlawful or banned. But by the present judgment, mere membership of these organisations will render all members liable to prosecution and punishment. Read more
US government report flags ‘significant human rights issues’ in India
Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff
The report was released nearly a year after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about the ‘rise in human rights abuses’ in India.
An annual report released by the United States government on Monday flagged “significant human rights issues” in India, including extra-judicial killings, torture and arbitrary arrests. Read more
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2022
By United States Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Arbitrary Arrest: The law prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, however, police reportedly continued to arrest persons arbitrarily. There were reports of police detaining individuals for custodial interrogation without identifying themselves or providing arrest warrants…
Multiple courts denied bail to the majority of the 16 activists incarcerated on conspiracy charges related to the Elgaar Parishad Bhima Koregaon protests that Page 10 resulted in several deaths. The accused claimed the charges were politically motivated. In 2021, human rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, age 84, died in a private hospital after contracting COVID-19 in prison and after being denied bail on medical grounds by an NIA special court. On August 10, the Supreme Court granted bail on medical grounds to Varvara Rao, age 82, a poet and human rights activist, and directed that he should not leave Mumbai without the court’s permission. On November 26, the Supreme Court affirmed the Bombay High Court’s order to release Anand Teltumbde, age 73, on bail on the condition that he remain within the Mumbai jurisdiction until the trial concludes. Additionally, activist Sudha Bharadwaj was released on bail in December 2021. Read full report
Civic Freedoms in India ‘Repressed’: Global Monitor Civicus
The section on India talks about the use of draconian laws like the UAPA and the use of the FCRA to target NGOs who do not toe the government’s line.
Civicus, a global civil society alliance, has kept India’s status as ‘repressed’ when it comes to civic freedoms in its new report, People Power Under Attack 2022. In 2018, India’s civic freedoms had been categorised as ‘obstructed’ – but it was downgraded to ‘repressed’ in 2019 has stayed in that zone ever since.
The section on India talks about the use of draconian laws like the UAPA and the use of the FCRA to target NGOs who do not toe the government’s line:
“In India, anti-terror laws such as the repressive Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act have been systematically used by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to keep student activists and HRDs – such as people the state alleges to have instigated violence in the village of Bhima Koregaon in 2018 – in detention. Read more Read full report „People Power Under Attack 2022“
Several retired bureaucrats recalled the custody death of Jesuit priest Stan Swamy
CCG OPEN LETTER TO THE HON’BLE PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA – HARASSMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji,
… We write to you today because we are deeply perturbed by the continued harassment, through speech and criminal action, of minority groups in the country by persons associated with your government, your party, organisations connected to it, and by mischief makers from amongst the public.
… Jesuit priest, Father Stan Swamy, for no fault of his except that he was closely working with the Adivasis, Dalits and other underprivileged people of Jharkhand, was virtually driven to his death by no less than the State. Read full statement
The book exposes a sinister modus operandi of the police of charging innocent Muslims for terror acts, which is structurally made easier in India. “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
– Milan Kundera, ‘The Book of Laughter and Forgetting’.
What if the state that is supposed to have been created by the people, the real sovereign as the constitution proclaims, turns into a monster that devours them? What if the police, vested with the responsibility of protecting people with law and order, turns into an organised gang of criminals supported by the state, conspire against innocent people, arrest them, torture them, and kill them with impunity? Read more
Anybody dissenting will be treated in this manner: Father Frazer Mascarenhas
In November 2021, the Bombay High Court allowed Father (Dr) Frazer Mascarenhas, SJ, to approach the court to clear the name of Father Stan Swamy, the oldest of the 16 Bhima Koregaon accused, who died in hospital in July 2021 …
Known to speak freely and stand by his principles, Father Frazer, who is now the parish priest at a Mumbai church, tells Rediff.com Senior Contributor Neeta Kolhatkar, “It seems to be a culture now. Anybody dissenting will be treated in this manner. No human rights… It is not limited to any one political party. The evidence shows that a group of political parties seem to be using this in an extensive and deliberate manner.”