DIGIPUB Condemns UP Police FIR Against Alt News Co-founder Mohammed Zubair
The Digipub News India Foundation, an association of 11 digital news organisations, has strongly condemned the targeted harassment of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair after he was booked by the Uttar Pradesh police for a tweet. In his tweet, Zubair had called three right-wing Hindu leaders- Yati Narasinghanand, Mahant Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop — ‘hatemongers’.
The police have booked Zubair under charged under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) "for outraging Hindu sentiments and Section 67 of the Information Technology (IT) Act."
The leaders mentioned by Zubair are infamous for making objectionable and hate-filled statements against Muslims;
In its statement, DIGIPUB highlighted that this is the fifth such FIR against Zubair.
"It does not bode well for a society when hate speech and active calls to violence go unpunished, furthermore when journalists who report judiciously to ensure that citizens are not victimised, are slapped with oppressive laws," the statement read.
DIGIPUB condemns in the strongest possible terms the harassment of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of Alt News
Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair has been booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police for calling three Hindutva supremacists "Hatemongers" in a tweet. This is not the first time he is being subjected to completely unfair harassment.
On June 1, 2022, an FIR was filed against Mohammed Zubair under the Indian Penal Code Section 295 (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) as well as Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act.
Zubair's tweet on May 27, 2022, read, "Why do we need hate mongers like Yati Narshinghanand Saraswati or Mahant Bajrang Muni or Anand Swaroop to arrange a Dharam Sansad to speak against a community or religion when we already have anchors who can do a much better job from News Studios."
The Hindutva supremacists that Zubair mentioned have all been booked for hate speech calling for violence against Muslims in the past few months.
This is the first FIR filed against Zubair in the last two years.
It does not bode well for a society when hate speech and active calls to violence go unpunished, furthermore when journalists who report judiciously to ensure that citizens are not victimised, are slapped with oppressive laws.
Journalistic values are fundamentally the same as democratic values. Such repeated assaults on journalists and fact-checkers are assaults on democracy. Digipub will stand with Zubair and help him combat such continuing persecution with all legal options. The news media's relationship with various governments is no doubt adversarial but neither needs to see the other as an enemy to be crushed. The UP government seems to have forgotten that. It is all our duties to maintain a robust and healthy democratic tradition and let us try to do our bit.
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