FIRs Filed Against Fact-Checking Journalist in Delhi, Raipur


According to Mohammed Zubair, a fact-checker and co-founder, “This is an absolutely frivolous complaint. I will be responding to it legally.” 

Clarion India 

NEW DELHI – A case has been registered against the co-founder of a fact-checking website in Delhi and Raipur under various Sections of the IT Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act after receiving complaints from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) over allegedly “threatening and torturing a girl child through Twitter”.

The complaint sent by NCPCR, which is the basis of the two FIRs in Delhi and Raipur, mentions three Twitter handles, including @zoo_bear, which is run by Mohammed Zubair, fact-checker and co-founder of the fact-checking website, AltNews. The other two handles are @de_real_mask and @syedsarwar20.

DCP (Cyber Crime, Delhi) Anyesh Roy and Raipur SP Ajay Yadav confirmed that FIRs had been filed, reports The Indian Express.

The commission refers to a tweet shared by Zubair on August 6, which had the photo of a minor girl, with her face blurred out, during an online spat she was having with her father. As per the Raipur Police office, the other two handles had commented on the post. However, an account has been deleted and the other is anonymous.

The NCPCR took cognisance of the post on August 8 and initiated an inquiry, in which the organisation asked Twitter to provide relevant information.

“Dissatisfied with their response, we summoned Twitter, and their representatives appeared before the Commission on Friday. We also wrote to police authorities, and according to the action-taken report, an FIR has been lodged against alleged persons for threatening and torturing a girl child on Twitter,” NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo told the media.

As per Twitter’s request an additional time of 10 days has been provided to them to provide relevant information. “This is an absolutely frivolous complaint. I will be responding to it legally”, Zubair told the media.

Raipur SP Yadav said the FIR was lodged after the complainant and the NCRB sent separate letters. As per the police investigation of the matter and prima facie, some comments are found to be classified as harassment. “We have registered the FIR against the three Twitter handles but investigation work is still going on.” Sources said the complainant reached out to the police some weeks ago.

A Raipur police officer said, “The FIR has been filed under Section 509 B (sexual harassment by electronic mode) of the IPC, Section 12 (punishment for committing sexual harassment upon a child) of POCSO Act, and Section 67 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the IT Act.”

In a statement on Sunday, Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha dismissed the allegations. “An attempt is being made to hound co-founder of Alt News, Mohammed Zubair, through misuse of legal apparatus,” Sinha said. “Alt News stands by Mohammed Zubair. Zubair has been in the forefront of fighting fake narratives, and his work hurts those who have weaponized misinformation to subvert the Indian democracy.”


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