Siddique Kappan was accused by authorities of breaching anti-terror laws for reporting on a teenage Dalit girl's rape and death in 2020 that sparked outrage and massive protests.
An Indian journalist who was arrested two years ago on charges of conspiring to incite riots in a northern Indian state has walked out of jail.
Siddique Kappan, who worked for a regional Malayalam news website, was arrested in Uttar Pradesh state in October 2020 while on his way to report on the death of a lower-caste Dalit teenager who had been gang raped days before.
"I am feeling good. But, this is justice delayed and half-baked justice. The two years were very tough," he told local broadcaster NDTV after his release on Thursday morning.
"Journalism is not a crime," he added.
The state authorities alleged that Kappan and his co-accused were traveling to Hathras with the purpose to disrupt the area's peace. They also claimed that he had close ties to the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organisation accused by the federal government of having ties to "terrorist" outfits, which the organisation denies.
The PFI was banned by the Indian government last year.
Kappan was also booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
READ MORE: India's Supreme Court orders release of jailed Muslim journalist
Visuals of #Kerala based Journalist #SiddiqueKappan coming out of Lucknow jail earlier in the morning today. He was behind bars for more than two years.— DW Samachar (@dwsamachar) February 2, 2023
he was arrested while going to cover #HathrasCase.#Kappan #Journalismisnotacrime #Press #Media #Yogi @myogiadityanath pic.twitter.com/sWjrAJMXEh
Kappan walked out of jail months after the Supreme Court granted him bail in September last year. He, however, was not released because he was required for an investigation in a money laundering case, which was investigated by India's Enforcement Directorate.
In December 2022, the journalist was also granted bail in a money laundering case.
On September 14, 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit girl was gang raped in the state's Hathras area, resulting in serious injuries and her death two weeks later. The incident triggered widespread outrage and protests across the country.
The caste system in India divides Hindus into four main categories – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. Outside of this are the Dalits, who are regarded as "untouchables" or socially excluded from upper-caste Hindus.
READ MORE: Indian top court grants bail to jailed Muslim journalist