Delhi Police on Monday arrested Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair on the charges of promoting enmity and insulting religious beliefs.
Zubair was booked under sections 153A (promotion of enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Delhi Police said.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and many others came out in support of the Alt News co-founder.
"Every person exposing BJP's hate, bigotry and lies is a threat to them. Arresting one voice of truth will only give rise to a thousand more. Truth ALWAYS triumphs over tyranny. #DaroMat," tweeted Gandhi.
"India’s few fact-checking services, especially @AltNews, perform a vital service in our post-truth political environment, rife with disinformation. They debunk falsehoods whoever perpetrates them. To arrest @zoo_bear is an assault on truth. He should be released immediately," wrote Tharoor.
#IStandWithZubair also began trending on Twitter.
Check out a few tweets below:
According to police, the case is based on a tweet the Alt News co-founder that came to the police's notice after a Twitter handle called 'Hanuman Bhakt (@balajikijaiin)' expressed anger the post “BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel”, Delhi Police officials told news agency ANI.
"After Delhi Police was alerted by the Twitter handle that Zubair had earlier made objectionable tweet and his followers/social media entities had amplified and created a series of debates/hate-mongering, he was examined & his role was found objectionable, said Delhi Police officials.
Zubair was called for questioning today and he was "evasive on the questions and neither provided the necessary technical equipment for the purpose of the investigation nor cooperated in the investigation", they said.
"During investigation, conduct of Mohd Zubair was found questionable, which warranted his custodial interrogation to unravel conspiracy in this matter. Accordingly, he has been arrested & is being produced before court for seeking police custody remand," Delhi Police added.
Meanwhile, AltNews co-founder Pratik Sinha claimed that Zubair was called to Delhi for questioning in a different case.
He said, "Zubair was called today by special cell, Delhi for investigation in a 2020 case for which he already had a protection against arrest from High Court." "However, today at around 6.45pm we were told he has been arrested in some other FIR for which no notice was given which is mandatory under law for the Sections under which he has been arrested. Nor FIR copy is being given to us despite repeated requests," Sinha said in a statement on the microblogging site.