Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Global press body demands immediate release of Mohammed Zubair

Indian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release journalist and Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, and cease harassing him in retaliation for his work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On Monday evening, officers with the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations unit of the Delhi police arrested Zubair, after summoning him for questioning.

Zubair has been remanded in police custody for a day and will be produced in court for a bail hearing after Tuesday.

Pratik Sina, Zubair’s colleague and Alt News co-founder alleged that Zubair had been summoned for questioning in relation to a 2020 criminal investigation over his social media posts, for which he was already granted protection from arrest by the Delhi High Court. When Zubair responded to that summons, officers arrested him in relation to a criminal investigation opened earlier this month following a post about Zubair by an anonymous Twitter user with the account @balajikijaiin.

Police accuse Zubair of promoting enmity between different groups and committing malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings, those reports said; if charged and convicted, he could face up to three years of prison and a fine for each offense, according to the Indian penal code.

“The arrest of journalist Mohammad Zubair marks another low for press freedom in India, where the government has created a hostile and unsafe environment for members of the press reporting on sectarian issues,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington, D.C.

“Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Zubair, and allow him to pursue his journalistic work without further interference,” he added.

The @balajikijaiin account features a profile photo of the Hindu god Hanuman; its most recent tweet was on June 19, in which it reposted a 2018 tweet by Zubair commenting on a hotel changing its name from “Honeymoon Hotel” to “Hanuman Hotel” after the ruling Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party came to power.

In its June 19 tweet, @balajikijaiin tagged the Delhi Police, called Zubair’s comment a “direct insult of Hindus,” and asked the police to “kindly take action against this guy.”

Many including Opposition leaders, journalists and rights activists and thousands of social media users are calling for Alt News co-founder and journalist Mohammed Zubair to be immediately released.

The Muslim journalist has been under attack from Hindu nationalists for calling out hate speech by several Hindu monks and Hindutva politicians including Yati Narsinghanand, Mahant Bajrang Muni, Anand Swaroop and Nupur Sharma.


Don't Miss

Related Articles