Delhi Police on June 27 arrested Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt News, in a case related to the alleged hurting of religious sentiments and promotion of communal enmity.
The arrest has been made by the IFSO (Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations) unit of Delhi Police, which deals with cyber crime, on the basis of a complaint filed by a Twitter user.
The present case is based on a "complaint from a Twitter handle, wherein it was alleged that Mohammed Zubair had tweeted a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion", the Delhi Police said in a statement.
The case was registered under (IPC) sections 153A, which is invoked in cases linked to "promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence" and 295A which deals with "deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs".
"In the month of June 2022, when Delhi Police was alerted by a Twitter handle that Mohammad Zubair had earlier made an objectionable tweet and his followers/social media entities had amplified and created a series of debates/hate mongering in the thread, he was examined in this case and his role was found objectionable," the police said.
During the course of investigation, the conduct of Zubair was "found questionable", which warranted his "custodial interrogation to unravel the conspiracy in this matter", it added.
"Accordingly, he has been arrested and is being produced before the court for seeking police custody remand," the statement further noted.
Pratik Sinha, the other co-founder of Alt News, claimed that Zubair was summoned in a case dating back to 2020, for which he was already granted protection by the Delhi High Court. He was, however, arrested by the police in another case for which the FIR copy was yet to be served, Sinha alleged.
"Zubair was called today by special cell, Delhi for investigation in a 2020 case for which he already had a protection against arrest from High Court. However, today at around 6.45pm we were told 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. Nor FIR copy is being given to us despite repeated requests," Sinha said.
Please note. pic.twitter.com/gMmassggbx
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) June 27, 2022
"After the medical examination, Zubair is 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 (sic)," he further tweeted.
The arrest also comes days after Zubair was accused by Nupur Sharma, the former BJP spokesperson suspended from the party over her controversial remarks against the Islamic Prophet, of fuelling hatred against her on social media.
Zubair had tweeted the clip from a news debate where Sharma had issued the controversial remarks.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi condemned the Delhi Police following Zubair's arrest, accusing it of violating the due process of law."Arrest of Zubair is highly condemnable. He’s been arrested with no notice and in some unknown FIR. Total violation of due process. @DelhiPolice
does nothing about anti-Muslim genocidal slogans but acts swiftly against “crime” of reporting hate speech & countering misinformation (sic)," Owaisi tweeted.Congress MP and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor also called for his release. "India’s few fact-checking services, especially @AltNews, perform a vital service in our post-truth political environment, rife with disinformation. They debunk falsehoods whoever perpetrates them. To arrest @zoo_bear is an assault on truth. He should be released immediately (sic)," he tweeted.