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SC objects to ‘unfair reporting’, allows journalist Siddique Kappan to meet his lawyers

Kappan, who works with Malayalam news website Azhimukham, and three others were arrested on October 5 in Mathura while on his way to Hathras.

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Siddique Kappan

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan to meet his lawyers to sign on the vaqalatnama to facilitate his bail even as the bench took objection to the manner in which the case was reported in the media.

The SC bench, headed by CJI S A Bobde and comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, was hearing the habeas corpus petition filed by the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) against custody of Kappan.

The bench allowed senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for KUWJ, to meet his client after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court there was no objection to Kappan meeting his lawyers. “There was no objection and there is no objection,” SG Mehta said while denying allegations that Kappan’s lawyers were not allowed to meet him. The court has adjourned the matter till next week.

“List after one week. In the meantime, the accused person’s signature can be obtained in jail for taking recourse in courts,” the bench said.

In an affidavit filed in Supreme Court, the UP government claimed that a “completely false narrative” was being made that Kappan was not being permitted to talk to relatives or lawyers as during judicial custody, he had interacted with his family members on three occasions on phone on his written request.

“It is pertinent to note that accused Siddique Kappan has never requested to meet any relative or any lawyer nor has file any such application before the competent court/jail authorities till date,” it said.

Kappan, who works with Malayalam news website Azhimukham, and three others were arrested on October 5 in Mathura while on his way to Hathras where a 19-year-old Dalit woman had been allegedly assaulted and gangraped leading to her death in a Delhi hospital.

Uttar Pradesh Police have alleged that Kappan and two members of the Campus Front of India (CFI) were part of a “conspiracy” to inflame religious enmity over the Hathras rape, and booked them on various charges, including under the stringent UAPA and sedition.

In course of the brief hearing, CJI Bobde said media reports claiming that the court had denied relief to Kappan were “unfair”. “There was very unfair reporting about our earlier order. I am worried about the inaccurate reporting. The reports said that the journalist was refused relief,” the SC said. The bench asked Sibal to go through the reply filed by Uttar Pradesh and file rejoinder. “You have the right to file bail and you read the reply and then we will hear you completely,” the bench said.

In the last hearing, the SC sought responses from the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea seeking the release of Kappan while observing that it was “trying to discourage” individuals from filing petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution—which grants individuals the right to approach the top court seeking enforcement of fundamental rights.

In the affidavit filed in Supreme Court, the UP government said Kappan was going to Hathras under the “garb of journalism” with a “very determined design” to create caste divide and disturb law and order situation.

“Kappan was the Office Secretary of Popular Front of India (PFI) who is using a journalist cover by showing identity card of a Kerala-based newspaper named as ‘Tejas’ that was closed in 2018,” the UP affidavit said, according to Live Law. “Mobile phones, laptop, pamphlets having headlines of ‘Justice for Hathras Victim’ etc. were duly seized and information of such arrest was duly conveyed to the relatives,” it further mentioned.

India

‘Jai Hind’, Modi wishes nation on Republic Day

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Jan 26 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended his greetings to the citizens of India as the country marked its 72nd Republic Day.

In a tweet both in English and Hindi, the Prime Minister said: “Wishing all the people of India a Happy Republic Day… Jai Hind.”

On this day in 1950, the Constitution of India came into force.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit the National War Memorial near the India Gate later in the day, from where he will lead the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the 90-minute-long Republic Day parade ceremony.

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India

Tractor rally: farmers breach Delhi’s Red Fort in huge protest

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Red Fort

Thousands of farmers protesting at agriculture reforms have fought through police barricades and tear gas to enter Delhi’s historic Red Fort complex.

They were on foot and in tractors – part of a huge rally that was planned to coincide with India’s Republic Day.

Many protesters diverted from agreed routes and clashes broke out with police. One protester has died.

Mobile internet services have been suspended in parts of Delhi as security forces scramble to restore order.

The government says the reforms that spurred the protests will liberalise the agriculture sector, but farmers say they will lose income.

Tens of thousands of them have been striking on the outskirts of Delhi since November, demanding the laws be repealed. They rejected a government offer to put the laws on hold last week.

This is one of the longest farmers-led protests India has ever seen, pitting the community against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party-led (BJP) government.

How did the protests turn violent?

Police agreed to allow Tuesday’s rally after several rounds of talks on the condition that it would not interrupt the annual Republic Day parade, which takes place in central Delhi. They gave farmers specific routes for their rally, which would largely be confined to the outskirts.

But farmers instead converged on the iconic 16th Century fortress. They breached security and clambered onto the walls and domes of the fort, even hoisting flags alongside the national flag.

By Tuesday afternoon, police said they had removed protesting farmers from the Red Fort complex, but the situation remains tense.

“We came here to deliver a message to the Modi government, our job is done. We will go back now,” one protesting farmer told NDTV.

While farmers at several entry points appear to have followed the agreed routes, a section of protesters broke through police barricades earlier in the day.

They marched towards central Delhi, where India’s parliament is located.

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Farmers’ demonstrations in Delhi turn violent as protester clash with the police

Violence broke out in Delhi on Republic Day as protesters in farmers’ tractor rally marched into the national capital, breaking barricades and clashing with the police. The Delhi Police resorted to tear gas shells and lathi-charge to contain the situation. Deviating from the designated route, a section of farmers entered the Red Fort and hoisted flags

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Red Fort Farmers

Violence marred farmers’ tractor rally on Tuesday as protesters clashed with police at multiple places in Delhi and entered the iconic Red Fort.

Protesting farmers deviated from pre-decided routes, which prompted police personnel to resort to lathicharge and tear gas. Many cops were injured in the violence that broke out amid the 72nd Republic Day celebrations in India.

Protesting farmers at Delhi border points clashed with police early Tuesday morning as they broke barricades to force their way into the city much ahead of the time the cops had told them to enter. Thousands of farmers entered Delhi from Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri border points amid heavy deployment of police.

Delhi Police had on Sunday allowed the tractor rally after the annual Republic Day parade. The protesters were told they can’t disrupt the celebrations at Rajpath even as the farmers insisted their parade will be “peaceful”.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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