Freelance journalist Zubair Ahmed was arrested on April 27 for his tweets inquiring about COVID-19 matters
Freelance journalist Zubair Ahmed was arrested on April 27 for his tweets inquiring about COVID-19 matters|Representational image
NATIONAL

Andaman journalist held for tweeting question related to COVID-19

Journalist from Andaman & Nicobar Islands arrested for reportedly asking why families were placed under quarantine for speaking on phone with COVID-19 patients

Amlan Jyoti Das

Amlan Jyoti Das

New Delhi: If you plan to ask a question related to COVID-19 on Twitter, think again. Zubair Ahmed, a journalist from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, reportedly learnt it the hard way when he happened to ask on Twitter why a family was put under quarantine for just speaking over the phone with a COVID-19 patient. He was arrested reportedly over the tweet.

In a tweet on April 26, the journalist, who is a former associate editor with the Andaman Chronicle, wrote: “Request #Covid19 quarantined persons not to call any acquaintance over the phone. People are being traced and quarantined on the basis of phone calls. #StaySafeStayHome.”

The next day, in another tweet, the freelance journalist stated, “Can someone explain why families are placed under home quarantine for speaking over phone with Covid patients? @MediaRN_ANI @Andaman_Admin.”

Then all hell seemed to break loose as Denis Giles, the editor-in-chief of Andaman Chronicle, said that four people from Bambooflat police station reached Ahmed’s place and told that he was summoned by the SP to answer some questions about his tweet to the Aberdeen police station, as per a report published by The News Minute.

An hour later, he was arrested under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (Punishment for obstruction) and Sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 505(1)(b) (Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumor or report with intent to cause fear or alarm among the public) of the IPC, The News Minute report said.

He was later also booked under Section 54 (punishment for false warning) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The tweet by Ahmed was reportedly based on the news report which stated that four members of a particular family in Haddo, a town in Andaman, was forced to observe home quarantine after one of the members rang up a relative who earlier tested for COVID-19. The phone call was just to enquire about the well-being of the relative, reports said.

While Ahmed did not mention the report in his tweet which was published in Andaman Chronicle on April 26, he raised the issue in his tweet on April 27. On the same day around 7 pm, Ahmed was arrested.

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