Calling the unwarranted action against AltNews co-founder “extremely disturbing”, the Guild said his release would support India’s position at the international forum
NEW DELHI – Condemning the arrest of fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, the Editors Guild of India demanded his immediate release invoking Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment in the G7 meeting in Germany to ensure a resilient democracy by protecting online and offline content.
Calling the unwarranted action against AltNews co-founder “extremely disturbing”, the Guild said his release would support India’s position at the international forum.
In a recently released joint statement, the G7 bound the member countries by a commitment to open public debate, independent and pluralistic media and the free flow of information online and offline, fostering legitimacy, transparency, responsibility and accountability for citizens and elected representatives alike.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police for a 2018 tweet touted to be “highly provocative and more than sufficient to incite feelings of hatred(among people)”, according to First Information Report (FIR). A Special Cell of the Delhi Police arrested him on Monday on charges of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and deliberate acts to outrage religious feelings.
In the tweet, Mohammed Zubair shared a clip from legendary filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1983 classic Kissi Se Na Kehna.
Several prominent people highlighted the contrast in the ways the police dealt with two cases, one of suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma and the other of Zubair. While both have been charged with the same offences (sections 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code), Zubair has been arrested, but Sharma remained free notwithstanding the protests and condemnation from several Gulf countries provoked by her offensive remarks on Prophet Muhammad.
In fact, it was Mohammed Zubair who first highlighted Ms Sharma’s offensive comments during a news debate.
“This is extremely disturbing because Zubair and his website AltNews have done some exemplary work over the past few years in identifying fake news and countering disinformation campaigns, in a very objective and factual manner. In fact, it was an exposure of toxic remarks of a ruling party spokesperson on a TV channel that allowed the party to make amends,” the guild’s statement said.