Alt News co-founder Zubair's bail plea to be heard by local court on July 14
Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair

Guwahati: The Delhi Police on Monday arrested Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, on the charges of hurting religious sentiments and inciting riots.

He was arrested based on a complaint made by Twitter handle ‘@balajikijaiin’ this month, alleging that Zubair had tweeted a “questionable” image to “deliberately insult the god of a particular religion”, police said. Zubair had reportedly sent out that tweet in March 2018.  

Zubair has been charged under sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.

On Monday, Zubair was produced at the Duty Magistrate’s residence in Delhi’s Burari. He was then sent to one-day police custody.He was arrested by the IFSO (Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations) unit of Delhi Police after a Twitter handle alerted the police about tweets that were detrimental to communal harmony.

Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha said Zubair was called to Delhi for questioning in a different case from 2020, in which the court has given him protection against arrest. But he was arrested in this new case instead without mandatory notice, Sinha said.

However, police have acknowledged that Zubair was originally being questioned in an older case but was arrested in the new case after having sufficient evidence on record. He is still being questioned and police will present him before a magistrate today to seek further custody.

As per reports, the older case against Zubair from 2020 was filed for alleged harassment of a girl on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted against the arrest and criticised the BJP government. “Arresting one voice of truth will only give rise to a thousand more,” he said.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor termed Zubair’s arrest an “assault on truth”, and demanded his release.

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