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Journalist, 3 others on way to Hathras arrested, charged with anti-terror law

Lucknow/Mathura: A journalist from Kerala and three others, who were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police while on way to Hathras earlier this week, have been charged under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA and sedition by the Uttar Pradesh police. In the FIR, the police have applied Section 17 of the UAPA, which deals with "raising funds for a terrorist act".

The UP government, on the other hand, has given an additional 10 days to the three-member SIT investigating the case as the "probe is not complete", a senior official said on Wednesday.

The Special Investigation Team, constituted on September 30 and led by Home Secretary Bhagwan Swarup, was initially given seven days to submit its report.

Journalist Siddique Kappan was going to Hathras on Monday to cover the situation following the alleged gang-rape and death of the young Dalit woman, which has triggered nationwide outrage.

Kappan, a contributor for a popular Kerala-based website, is also the secretary of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists.

In a statement on Tuesday, the police said they had received information that some "suspicious people" were on their way to Hathras from Delhi. Following the tip-off, the men — Siddique Kappan, Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam — were stopped at a toll gate in Mathura and later arrested. Their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature they carried, were seized, the statement added.

The police claimed that the men, during questioning, revealed they had links with the PFI and its associate organisation Campus Front of India (CFI). The FIR said a pamphlet titled 'I am not India's daughter' was recovered from them.

The FIR alleged that Internet platform 'Carrd.co' and website 'Justice for Hathras' were being used to instigate caste violence, riots and collecting donations. Such websites are spreading anti-national propaganda in the country and distorting facts to create tension and disturb law and order, it alleged.

It has to be probed from where and why these websites are being operated, how much money is being collected through this platform/website, where was this amount used and who were beneficiaries, the FIR said.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Anju Rajput granted the police a 14-day judicial remand of the four persons, saying the offence is of serious nature and requires more interrogation.

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.

"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, they pointed out that he was on his way to Hathras to report on the story.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Congress chief Amit Chavda, working state president Hardik Patel and independent MLA Jignesh Mevani were among dozens of protesters detained by the Gujarat Police on Wednesday ahead of a rally seeking justice for the Hathras victim in Ahmedabad.

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