‘#IStandWithZubair’ Trends On Twitter As Support Pours In After His Arrest


Mohammed Zubair was asked to give testimony in a 2020 case involving the circulation of a picture of a young child with her face pixelated. However, he was detained in connection with a 2018 tweet that disparaged a god.

The Delhi Police’s cyber squad detained Mohammed Zubair, a co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, on Monday for inciting hatred and hurting religious feelings. He spent the day in police custody.

Who is Mohammed Zubair?

Mohammad Zubair, alongside former IT developer Pratik Sinha, launched the fact-checking website Alt News. To tackle fake news, Zubair and Sinha established the Alt News website in 2017.

Right-wing trolls frequently target Zubair for fact-checking false information that circulates on social media and occasionally makes it to publications and news outlets.

Why was Zubair arrested?

An FIR was filed on a complaint from Bhagwan Sharan, the Sitapur unit chief of the Hindu Sher Sena.

The complainant claimed the 39-year-old Muslim journalist had intentionally insulted a certain religion’s deity by tweeting a “questionable” image, in March 2018, according to authorities, which is the basis of the case against Zubair.

Sub-Inspector Arun Kumar of the Delhi Police has filed the FIR. According to the policeman, he was monitoring social media when he saw a post from a user with the username “Hanuman Bhakt” complaining to Zubair’s message.

“Linking our God Hanuman ji with honeymoon is a blatant disrespect of Hindus because he is brahmchari,” the Twitter user remarked in a screenshot that was released. Please take action against this individual @delhipolice,” read a tweet from Delhi Police.

Suman Nalwa, a spokeswoman for the Delhi Police, confirmed Zubair’s arrest to Al Jazeera and stated that the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings) and 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause a riot) have been invoked against the journalist.

Zubair was reportedly sought for interrogation in a 2020 case for which he already has protection from the Delhi High Court, according to Zubair’s coworker at Alt News, Pratik Sinha. He was detained, nonetheless, in another circumstance.

Zubair declined to respond to questions about the FIR, but Alt News’ editor-in-chief Pratik Sinha claimed it was an obvious case of “selective targeting.”

What Was The 2020 Case?

After receiving a report from the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, the Delhi Police had arrested Zubair in August 2020 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO) (NCPCR). It made reference to a tweet Zubair had posted that included a picture of a young girl whose face had been blurred after an online argument with her father.

The NCPCR filed a complaint with the Delhi High Court, claiming that Twitter’s refusal to remove the post constituted a violation of numerous laws. However, the court had ordered the police to refrain from using coercion against Zubair in that case. Additionally, it requested that the Delhi Police submit an updated status report on the current investigation.

Since the arrest, support has been pouring in for Mohammed Zubair.

Moreover, the arrest of Zubair was described as “extremely disturbing” by the Editors Guild of India. They urged his immediate release.

“It is apparent that Alt News’ alert vigilance was resented by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarise society and rake nationalist sentiments,” the Guild said in a statement in New Delhi.

Earlier, a group of online news outlets had also denounced Mr. Zubair’s detention and demanded that the Delhi Police quickly drop their charges against him.

“It is unjustifiable that such strict laws are being used as tools against journalists, who have been accorded the role of playing watchdog against the misuse of institutions of the state,” a DIGIPUB statement said. “In a democracy, where every individual possesses the right to exercise the freedom of speech and expression.”

Twitter Reactions To Zubair’s Arrest

The hashtag #IStandWithZubair has been flooding the platform and many verified names have also come out with their stance.

Srinivas BV, National President of the Indian Youth Congress, questions Delhi Police, “Any update on Komal Sharma?”

Political party, Rashtriya Ulama Council (RUC), tweeted:

Indian activist, Yogendra Yadav, tweeted the perspective of journalism saying:

Rashtriya Janata Dal also expressed their condemnation:

The Quint journalist, Fatima Khan, on Twitter said:

There exists a fan club for Zubair which came out to post a meme with respect to the case:

Furthermore, opposition party, Congress, also came out in support for Zubair. Rahul Gandhi tweeted with the #DaroMat:

Zubair continues to receive support through the trending hashtag on Twitter and even otherwise, as they demand for his release while slamming the Delhi Police.

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