Journalist Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of AltNews, was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday under IPC sections 153 and 295 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity, PTI reported. KPS Malhotra, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell), said Zubair was arrested in connection with one of his recent tweets that had a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion.
The case was registered on the complaint of a Twitter user who accused Zubair of hurting religious sentiments, PTI reported.
“The said post of Mohd Zubair containing picture and words against a particular religious community are highly provocative and done deliberately which are more than sufficient to incite hatred among people which can be detrimental for maintenance of public tranquillity. On the basis of the said post above case has been registered,” ANI quoted Delhi Police as saying.
In a statement, police said Zubair was “evasive” on their questions and neither provided the “necessary technical equipment” for the purpose of the investigation nor cooperated in the case.
“During investigation, the conduct of Mohammed Zubair was found questionable, which warranted his custodial interrogation to unravel the conspiracy in this matter. Accordingly, he has been arrested,” the statement said.
AltNews founder Pratik Sinha tweeted that Zubair was summoned by Delhi Police for questioning in connection with a 2020 case for which he already had protection from arrest from the High Court.
“However, he has been arrested in some other FIR for which no notice was given which is mandatory under law for the sections under which he has been arrested. No FIR copy is being given to us despite repeated requests,” Sinha tweeted.
In another tweet, he alleged that after the medical examination, Zubair was being taken to an undisclosed location. “Neither Zubair’s lawyers or I are being told where. We are in the police van with him. No police person is wearing any name tag,” Sinha alleged.
Reacting to the arrest, TMC MP Derek O’Brien said, “Strongly condemn the arrest of one of the world’s finest journalists Mohammed Zubair, who exposes the BJP’s Fake News factory every single day. PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for the all power you wield, you are essentially cowards.”
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor termed Zubair’s arrest an “assault on truth” and demanded his release.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said arresting one voice of truth will only give rise to a thousand more. “Every person exposing BJP’s hate, bigotry and lies is a threat to them. Arresting one voice of truth will only give rise to a thousand more. Truth always triumphs over tyranny,” Rahul said, using the hashtag “#DaroMat”.
Earlier this month, an FIR was registered against Mohammad Zubair at Uttar Pradesh’s Khairabad Police Station for calling three Hindu seers — Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop — “hate mongers”.
On May 27, Zubair tweeted that prime time debates on Indian news channels had become “a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill about other religions”.
“Why do we need Hate Mongers like Yati Narasinghanand Saraswati or Mahant Bajrang Muni or Anand Swaroop to arrange a Dharam Sansad to speak against a community and a Religion when we already have Anchors who can do much better job from News Studios,” Zubair had tweeted.