Indian police arrests Mohammed Zubair over tweets

Mohammed Zubair
Mohammed Zubair

Police in India have arrested the co-founder of a fact-checking website who has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Mohammed Zubair of Alt News has been accused of insulting religious beliefs on Twitter, a network of media organisations said.

Opposition leaders and activists have condemned the arrest.

They said it was a clear attempt by the Hindu-nationalist government to clamp down on those who expose hate speech.

Mr Zubair recently highlighted comments of a spokesperson of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a television debate. His tweet was widely shared and led to several Muslim countries lodging strong protests with India.

In recent weeks, Hindu nationalists have drawn attention to past comments made by Mr Zubair and demanded that he be prosecuted for hurting their religious feelings.

Mr Zubair was detained over a complaint from a Twitter account that said he insulted Hindus in a 2018 post commenting on the renaming of a hotel after the Hindu monkey god Hanuman, the ANI news agency reported, citing Delhi Police sources.

Many journalists have been demanding his immediate release.

“Zubair who routinely busted fake news, exposed the hate machinery in India has just been arrested,” said Rana Ayyub, a Muslim journalist.

“The country is punishing those who reported, documented the decline.”

Opposition Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “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.”

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