Fishing expedition by the police to implicate Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair

The Delhi Police appear to have launched a fishing expedition against journalist and fact-checking site Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair.

Published: 04th July 2022 07:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th July 2022 07:59 AM   |  A+A-

Mohammed Zubair. (File Photo | PTI)

The Delhi Police appear to have launched a fishing expedition against journalist and fact-checking site Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair. Aware that his 2018 tweet which was alleged to be hate speech by an anonymous handle would not stand judicial scrutiny, the police slapped charges of destruction of evidence as the mobile phone he was carrying was already defragmented, for his custody. The police further widened the ambit and seized his other electronic devices from his home in Bengaluru, including his laptop, to look for more incriminating evidence to establish a plot. It is already alleging irregular financial transactions like a violation of FCRA to obtain foreign funds, including from Pakistan. His harassment continues despite a global outcry. The Enforcement Directorate is expected to join in to tighten the screws. He has since been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.

The action against Zubair comes close on the heels of a hate speech clip of BJP’s Nupur Sharma he posted on his Twitter handle. It drew eyeballs and the matter snowballed into a major controversy setting the country aflame. A Nupur supporter has since been murdered by bigots in Udaipur while another such suspected case in Amravati is under the NIA probe. Media and human rights organisations have alleged that Zubair is being persecuted for his religious affiliation while doing his job as a journalist. Others had retweeted the controversial 2018 tweet, they pointed out, but have not been prosecuted. It now transpires that hundreds of bots were used to amplify the allegations against him. 

That India’s ranking reached 150 in the latest World Press Freedom Index, a drop of eight points over its previous year’s pathetic score, shows the space for honest and upright journalism is sharply shrinking. TV news debates have been reduced to high-decibel slanging matches, often egged on by the moderator to produce a spectacle. As the Supreme Court said in its rather harsh oral observations against Nupur’s loose tongue, there was an attempt to peddle an agenda through the controversial debate she featured in. The need of the hour is to reset national priorities, wrap our heads around livelihood issues and foster communal amity instead. The lead for the initiative ought to come from the top to make the ‘sabka saath’ 
slogan meaningful.



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