Mohammed Zubair: Indian Supreme Court frees Alt News journalist accused of insulting Hindus on bail

Zubair — the co-founder of fact-checking site Alt News, which exposes misinformation in Indian media — was arrested by Delhi police on June 27 after a Twitter user accused him of insulting Hindus in a 2018 post about renaming a hotel. after the Hindu god.

Zubair had already been released on bail in the case in Delhi, but remained in detention after several complaints were made against him to police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in June and July over isolated social media posts.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court said all outstanding cases would be consolidated and investigated by a special unit of the Delhi Police and ordered his release by 6 pm local time.

Zubair frequently tweets to criticize Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for what he and other critics describe as a crackdown on the rights of the country’s estimated 200 million Muslims.

Among his recent posts on social media are videos he claims of Hindu extremists delivering hate speech against Islam, a minority religion in India, where nearly 80% of the population is Hindu.

Zubair’s arrest came amid repeated accusations by critics that the BJP was using colonial-era laws to suppress any form of criticism and encourage self-censorship, and was condemned by free speech advocates.

In early June, Zubair drew attention to derogatory comments made by a BJP spokesman about the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, which caused a diplomatic row with several Gulf states.

Press secretary Nurpur Sharma was removed from her post by the BJP after at least 15 Muslim-majority countries condemned her remarks, some of them summoning Indian ambassadors.

In a statement following Zubair’s arrest in June, the Editors Guild of India said “it is clear that Alt News’s wary vigilance has angered those who use disinformation as a tool to polarize society and fuel nationalist sentiment.”

Early Thursday morning, Prateek Sinha, co-founder of Alt News, tweeted a photo of him with Zubair, thanking their supporters.

“Zubair wants to express his heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported us over the past few weeks,” Sinha said. wrote. “He will be back very soon.

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