Digipub India also condemned in the “strongest possible words” the arrest of Zubair
New Delhi: The co-founder of fact-checking website AltNews, Mohammed Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police Monday on charges of hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity.
Delhi police registered a case based on a complaint made by Twitter handle ‘@balajikijaiin’ this month, alleging that Zubair had tweeted a “questionable” image to “deliberately insult the god of a particular religion”, police said.
Zubair had sent out that tweet in March 2018.
The Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police arrested the journalist, who was summoned today for questioning in a 2020 case.
AltNews co-founder Pratik Sinha said Zubair was called to Delhi for questioning in a different case from 2020, in which the court has given him protection against arrest.
But he was arrested in this new case instead, without mandatory notice, Sinha said. “No FIR copy is being given to us despite repeated requests.”
Police acknowledged that Zubair was originally being questioned in an older case but was arrested in the new case “after having sufficient evidence on record”.
He is still being questioned and police will present him before a magistrate tomorrow to seek further custody, ND TV reported.
Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair’s arrest “is an assault on truth”, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, leading the condemnation against the journalist’s arrest.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted against the arrest and criticised the BJP government. “Arresting one voice of truth will only give rise to a thousand more,” he said.
Another Congress MP, Jairam Ramesh, alleged that the Delhi police acted in a vengeful manner as AltNews exposes the government’s bogus claims.
Digipub India, a collective of digital news media organisations, also condemned in the “strongest possible words” the arrest of Zubair on Monday
“This is not the first time he is being subjected to legal harassment. This is the sixth FIR filed against Zubair over the last two years,” said Digipub in a statement.
The AltNews co-founder had earlier been booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police for calling three Hindutva supremacists “hatemongers” in a tweet, said the statement.
“In a democracy, where every individual possesses the right to exercise the freedom of speech and expression, it is unjustifiable that such stringent laws are being used as tools against journalists, who have been accorded the role of playing watchdogs against the misuse of institutions of the state,” read the statement, calling for the withdrawal of the case immediately.