Zubair, fact-checker, a target for disinformation and hate spreaders, says Editors Guild of India

Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Alt News

The citizens who depended on factual news and accurate reporting all over the country have expressed shock and surprise at the arrest of Muhammad Zubair, one of India’s trusted journalists, being arrested for ‘hurting religious belief’ and ‘provoking people to cause riot’.

A Delhi court today [Tuesday, 28 June] granted the police four-day custody of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair in a 2018 tweet case. The police had sought a five-day custody of Zubair. Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Zubair, argued that the AltNews website co-founder was being “maliciously targeted” and that the entire case “borders on absurdity.”

Rebutting Zubair’s counsel’s arguments, the Prosecution argued that Zubair’s “deliberate act of outraging religious sentiments was on record” and therefore his police remand was required. The Delhi police also told the court that Zubair allegedly “used controversial tweets to hurt religious feelings in an effort to get fame.”

Zubair was produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Savaria after the expiration of his one-day police custody.

“The Editors Guild of India (EGI) condemns the arrest of Muhammad Zubair” says the Editors guild of India in a press statement signed by the president, general secretary and treasurer.

Muhammad Zubair is the Co-founder of the fact checking website AltNews, and was arrested by Delhi police on 27th June over a ‘complaint’ from a Twitter account that said he insulted Hindus in a 2018 post commenting on the renaming of a hotel after the Hindu god Hanuman, the ANI news agency reported, citing senior Delhi police officials.

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Pratik Sinha, also a co-founder of AltNews, who accompanied him to the police, said neither he nor Mr Zubair’s lawyers were provided with a copy of the complaint on which the arrest was made.

 “In a bizarre turn of events Zubair was called in for questioning by the special cell of Delhi police in a case from 2020, for which he already had a protection against arrest from the Delhi high court. However when Zubair responded to the summons, he was arrested in relation to a criminal investigation initiated earlier in the month, after an anonymous twitter handle alleged that Zubair’s 2018 post was hurting religious sentiments.” the press statement reads.

Zubair and his website has done some exemplary work in identifying and tackling the spread of disinformation, which made him the direct target of those who use disinformation as a tool to polarize the society, the EGI added.

It also demanded the immediate release of Muhammad Zubair. Saying that it is necessary to buttress the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the G7 meet.

A cyber unit of Delhi Police on Monday arrested Zubair on charges of allegedly hurting religious sentiments following a complaint by a social media user who referred to a tweet from 2018. The police said they filed an FIR against Zubair in connection with the complaint under IPC sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295-A (malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings). Police sources said the complainant in the case goes by the Twitter name Hanuman Bhakt, with an image of Lord Hanuman as his profile photo. On Monday night, the handle had over 400 followers.

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One thought on “Zubair, fact-checker, a target for disinformation and hate spreaders, says Editors Guild of India

  • July 3, 2022 at 6:45 pm
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    In respect to targeting Hindus and hurting their sentiments whilst claiming their religious beliefs and provoking folks to cause riot, journalist Mohammed Zubair co-founder of Alt News has been arrested. He is one of the India’s trusted journalists has led people in shock and surprise.
    The Delhi court has specified that the journalist Mohammed Zubair has staked controversial tweets to hurt the religious beliefs from the point of gratifying fame.
    My viewpoint is that Mohammed Zubair one of the extrusive journalists all over India now would be known as corrupt, bad and maliciously a false man who wanted to get fame only for his succession towards hurting the people for their religious beliefs.
    So I would say one should not exaggerate the contrived statement or news in affecting the people’s sentiments towards their religious beliefs just for the sake of fame and money.

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