Will look into allowing video-conferencing for jailed Kerala scribe: Uttar Pradesh government to SC

By Express News Service
LUCKNOW: The five-member team of the Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh Police filed a 5,000-page chargesheet against eight members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) in Mathura court on Saturday. 

The Mathura Additional District Judge and Sessions Court has posted the matter for the next hearing on May 1.

Those named in the charge-sheet are Siddique Kappan (journalist), Atiqur Rehman, Rauf Sharif, Mohammad Danish, Alam, Masood Ahmad, Feroz Khan, and Asad Badruddin. All the accused have been charges with receiving funds to the tune of Rs 80 lakh from financial institutions based in Muscat and Doha for the purpose of creating unrest and riots in UP.

Initially, the STF had arrested five PFI members including Siddique Kappan in Mathura on October 5, 2020, while they were on their way to Hathras allegedly to meet the family of the Dalit girl who was gang-raped in Boolgarhi village leading to nationwide outrage.

As per the highly-placed sources, the STF has indicted the PFI members for plotting caste riots in Hathras and adjoining districts in the aftermath of the gang-rape of the Dalit girl who was also beaten up by the perpetrators with an intent to kill her. The victim, later, succumbed at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi on September 29, 2020.

The sources claimed that one among those named in the charge sheet by the STF included Mohammad Danish, who was also arrested by the Delhi Police for hatching a conspiracy to incite communal riots in northeast Delhi.

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The STF sources claimed that those named in the chargesheet were booked under the charges of sedition, provocation with intent to cause riots, injuring or defiling places of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class, raising funds for the terrorist act under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Information Technology Act.

On October 5, the UP Police had arrested the five PFI activists accusing them of having the intention to breach the peace. Journalist Siddique Kappan’s family in Kerala has conducted multiple protests in the state alleging foul play in the arrest and seeking his release.

The PFI members — Kappan, Atiq-ur-Rehman, Masood Ahmad, Alam and Rauf — arrested earlier were booked under the stringent UAPA. The FIR against them claimed that they were going to Hathras with an intention “to breach the peace” as part of a “conspiracy”.

Later, two more PFI activists — Feroz Khan and Asad Badruddin — were also held by the Special Task Force (STF) that had busted a terror plot on February 16, 2021, in Lucknow. A huge cache of explosives, arms, and incriminating documents was recovered from their possession. They were planning for a serial blast in Uttar Pradesh.

During the last hearing on March 31, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (First) Anil Kumar Pandey in Mathura had posted the matter for hearing on April 3 as the STF had sought two more days to file chargesheet against them. Since the time limit to submit a chargesheet would expire on April 4, the STF filed it on Saturday.

All the accused PFI members are lodged in a Mathura jail.