Even as the Uttar Pradesh police arrested a journalist and three other people in Mathura while they were on their way to Hathras, home to a Dalit woman who died after being allegedly gang-raped, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) has filed a habeas corpus petition in the top court against the arrest of the journalist, Sidhique Kappan.
The Uttar Pradesh police had on Monday said it has arrested four people having links with the Popular Front of India and its affiliate in Mathura.
The PFI had been accused of funding protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the country earlier this year and the UP police had sought a ban on the outfit.
The police had identified the arrested persons as Siddique from Malappuram, Atiq-ur Rehman from Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmed from Bahraich and Alam from Rampur.
Terming the arrest as illegal and unconstitutional, the KUWJ filed a petition seeking his immediate production and release from "illegal detention".
Hours after the arrest, it identified Malappuram native Siddique by his full name as Sidhique Kappan, saying he is "a senior Delhi-based journalist”.
In a letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists sought the immediate release of Kappan saying he is "a senior Delhi-based journalist working for several Malayalam media houses, including azhimukham.com".
The KUWJ also wrote a similar letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to order Kappan's release.
Kappan is also the KUWJ's secretary and was proceeding to Hathras only to do his duty as a reporter, KUWJ's Delhi unit president Miji Jose told the chief minister in his letter, urging him to order his release.
"We understand that he was taken into custody by Uttar Pradesh police from Hathras toll plaza. Our efforts and the efforts by some advocates based in Delhi to contact him were not successful," KUWJ said.
The Hathras police station and the state police have not provided any information so far on Kappan's arrest, it added.
"Mr Kappan was trying to do his duty as a reporter. We urge you to get him released at the earliest," KUWJ urged the UP chief minister.
The Uttar Pradesh police, meanwhile, said it has also seized from the arrested people their mobile phones, laptops and some literature, which could have an impact on peace and law and order.
During interrogation, it came to light that the four arrested people had links with the PFI and its associate organisation Campus Front of India, the UP police had claimed.
Hathras has been in the news following the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped on September 14 in a village in the district. And her cremation at night, allegedly without the parents' consent, has triggered widespread outrage.