Sunday August 14, 2022

Muhammad Zubair’s arrest: Indian editors' body demands immediate release of AltNews founder

EGI urges Narendra Modi to make India “a resilient democracy by protecting online and offline content" as he committed at G7 meet

By Web Desk
June 28, 2022
Indian journalist Muhammad Zubair. -Photo Twitter
Indian journalist Muhammad Zubair. -Photo Twitter

NEW DEHLI: The top body of Indian editors has condemned the arrest of a Muslim journalist and co-founder of the fact-checking site AltNews, Muhammad Zubair, and demanded his immediate release.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Editors Guild of India (EGI) condemned Muhammad Zubair’s arrest by the Delhi Police on June 27, for a tweet from 2018.

The EGI demanded that the Delhi Police should immediately release Muhammad Zubair and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure the commitment he made at the G7 meeting to make India “a resilient democracy by protecting online and offline content.”

Terming the circumstances surrounding his arrest “bizarre”, the EGI said that Zubair was called in for questioning by the special cell of Delhi Police in a case from 2020, for which he already had a protection against arrest from the Delhi High Court.

However, when Zubair responded to the summons, he was arrested in relation to a criminal investigation initiated earlier in the month, after an anonymous Twitter handle alleged that Zubair's 2018 post was hurting religious sentiments.

According to details, the journalist has been arrested under sections 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code.

“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 statement said.

The EGI added that apparently AltNews' alert vigilance was resented by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarise society and rake nationalist sentiments.