The Delhi Police on Monday arrested Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and inciting riots. He was arrested based on a complaint by a man who tagged the Delhi Police on Twitter.
According to the police, they reported Zubair for violating IPC sections 295-A and 153-A (which promote enmity between various groups) in connection with the complaint (malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings).
According to them, he was remanded in police custody for a day and will appear in court on Tuesday for a bail hearing.
According to police sources, the case’s complainant uses the Twitter handle Hanuman Bhakt and has a picture of Lord Hanuman as his profile photo. The handle had more than 400 followers as of Monday night.
Zubair had earlier this month brought attention to remarks made on the Prophet by Nupur Sharma, the then-BJP spokesperson, which had drawn condemnation from a wide range of nations, including those in the Gulf. The outrage prompted the government of India’s capital to distance itself from Sharma’s remarks, and the BJP, which is in power, suspended Sharma and fired Naveen Kumar Jindal, another party spokesperson.
The opposition, which included the Congress, TMC, RJD, AIMIM, and Left parties, denounced Zubair’s arrest and accused the BJP-led NDA government of repressing those who “expose its hate speech and fake propaganda.”
The Special Cell’s IFSO (Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations) unit, which deals with cases of cybercrime and cyber forensics, arrested Zubair.
“Delhi Police has registered a case after receiving a complaint from a Twitter handle, wherein it was alleged that Mohammed Zubair had tweeted a dubious image with a purpose to intentionally insult the god of a particular religion,” said DCP (IFSO) K P S Malhotra.
Such tweets were being retweeted, and it seemed like there was a social media “brigade” that engaged in insult-mongering, potentially harming communal harmony and generally opposing the preservation of public peace.
According to the first information report from Delhi Police, Hanuman Bhakt, a Twitter user with the handle @balajikijaiin, filed a complaint about the incident. The account had objected to a tweet Zubair had made in 2018 showing a picture of a hotel signboard that had been changed from reading “Honeymoon Hotel” to “Hanuman Hotel.”
According to a senior police officer, the tweet allegedly featured a picture of a hotel with the sign reading “Honeymoon hotel” painted over to read “Hanuman hotel.”
A screenshot of the complaint was posted online, along with the following complaint: “Linking our God Hanuman Ji with honeymoon is a direct insult of Hindus because he is brahmachari. Please take action to stop this person, @delhipolice. “Last week, we came across the tweet. Although Zubair originally sent out this tweet in 2018, the subject has recently come up. We acted and filed an FIR,” the officer declared.
The tweet by Mohammad Zubair was deemed offensive, and subsequent tweets resulted in a string of dubious and disparaging tweets, according to the police.
Zubair has been presented at the Burari residence of the magistrate in Delhi in order to request remand and allow for additional case investigation. Pratik Sinha, a co-founder of Alt News, claimed that despite repeated requests, neither the required notice nor a copy of the FIR was provided.