A journalist from Kerala along with three others, who were arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police while they were on their way to Hathras earlier this week, have been charged under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and sedition by the cops.
The UP police have booked the four people under Section 17 of the UAPA, which refers to "raising funds for a terrorist act". As per section 17 of the UAPA, "Whoever raises funds for the purpose of committing a terrorist act shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than five years but which may extend to imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine".
An FIR has been lodged against them in the Mant police station, charging them under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (for promoting enmity between groups) and 295A (outraging religious feelings) of the IPC, sections 14 and 17 of UAPA, sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act.
Journalist Siddique Kappan was on his way to Hathras on Monday to cover the alleged gang rape and death of the 19-year-old woman, which has triggered massive outrage across the nation.
Kappan, a contributor for a Kerala-based website, is also the secretary of the Delhi unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists.
The UP police said that they had received information that some "suspicious people" were on their way to Hathras from Delhi. Following the tip-off, the four men - Siddique Kappan, Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam - were stopped at a toll gate near Mathura and arrested.
"Their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature they carried, were seized," the statement said.
The police has claimed that the men, during interrogation, admitted that they had links with the PFI and its associate organisation Campus Front of India (CFI). The FIR also mentioned that a pamphlet read "I am not India's daughter" was recovered from them.
In the FIR, the sub-inspector accuses the four of moving towards the district to disrupt peace as part of a "big conspiracy".
The Press Club of India (PCI) in its statement on Tuesday, condemned the arrest of the journalist and demanded his immediate release. The body said, "In these circumstances our worry is that UP Police may not fight shy of using anti-terrorism provisions with which to charge the Kerala journalist."