UP: Siddique Kappan's Co-accused Mohammad Alam Released From Jail After 27 Months
Siddique Kappan. Image Courtesy: National Herald
Lucknow: Mohammed Alam, the taxi driver arrested along with Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, walked out of jail on Thursday morning after 27 months in prison.
Mohammed Alam (33), a native of Rampur, had got bail in August and October last year in the two cases in which he was booked. He is the first among four – the other three being Delhi-based journalist Kappan and PFI members Atikur Rahman and Masud Ahmad – who were arrested by UP Police on October 5, 2020, and booked under the stringent UAPA and on the charges of sedition and sections of the IT Act.
Mohammed Alam was driving the taxi in October 2020 in which Kappan and two others were going to Hathras, where a Dalit woman had died after allegedly being gang-raped. They were arrested before they could reach the woman's village.
Later, the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested three more persons and booked them in the same case. The police claimed that the accused were members of the banned organisation Popular Front of India(PFI) and its students' wing — Campus Front of India (CFI).
Along with the terror case filed under the UAPA, they were also booked by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Saifan Sheikh, Mohammed Alam's lawyer, told NewsClick, "Alam was released months after he got the bail, but he had to spend more than two months in jail due to delay on the part of local authorities in verifying the sureties furnished for him. The officials intentionally delayed the verification process to keep my client in jail for a longer time. However, we are happy that justice prevails."
A jail officer, however, told NewsClick on the condition of anonymity, denied the allegation and said the process for verification of sureties takes time. "The tehsil office only accepted documents by post and not by email or by hand, which led to delays. Therefore, the verification process takes time, and that is why the release got delayed."
A bench of Allahabad High Court on August 23, while giving bail in the UAPA case, stated that no incriminating article or evidence was recovered from his possession, making him the first of the accused to receive bail but he was still not released.
The High Court, however, had directed Alam to serve a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two local sureties of the same amount. The Lucknow special court had ordered him to furnish a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of the same amount.
"My husband was kept in jail for a crime which he never committed. Furthermore, despite getting bail, he was released after more than two months. Who will be responsible for the time he spent behind the bar? It's been three years since we got married, and my husband spent more time in jail than me," Bushra Alam, the victim's wife, told NewsClick.
Meanwhile, Kappan languishes in jail despite having secured bail in the UAPA and money laundering cases. The Supreme Court granted him bail in the UAPA case on September 9, while the Allahabad High Court granted him bail in the Prevention of Money Laundering Act case on December 23.
Former Vice-Chancellor of Lucknow University, professor, Prof Roop Rekha Verma, has volunteered to stand as surety to fulfil the court conditions for Kappan following the bail granted by the Supreme Court in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case.
"We are happy that he walked out of jail after more than two-and-half years, but it is very unfortunate that it took so long. In our country hand to mouth people are simply doing their job, and picking them up illegally and being sent to jail without proving their crime is very unfortunate. Mohammad Alam's case is not alone; thousands of innocent people languish in jails without proving their crimes. Had MohammedAlam been punished for any crime, he would have probably got less than the number of days he has already spent in jail," the former Lucknow University VC told NewsClick.
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