July 11, 2022.
An Indian court has approved a 14-day judicial custody for the journalist Mohammed Zubair, for questioning by police. Indian Police had earlier arrested the leading Indian journalist, known for his fact-checking website Alt News (https://AltNews.in), Mohammed Zubair, allegedly for “disturbing religious harmony” on Monday. Justice For All strongly condemns Zubair’s arrest and demands his immediate release.
The web site he co-founded, ALT NEWS, is committed to debunking misinformation, disinformation and mal-information on social media as well as mainstream media. The arrest comes less than a week after Twitter received a request from the BJP government claiming that Alt News co-founder’s account had “violated Indian laws”.
Zubair is one among the growing number of Indian journalists facing reprisal for exposing fake news & anti-minority propaganda run by rightwing groups who enjoy patronage under the ruling BJP government.
Its no surprise that, Zubair who is considered as among the most prominent Muslim journalists in India, faces a barrage of harassment in the form of trolling, doxing and even police complaints. In just last 21 months, 5 criminal cases have been filed against Zubair by rightwing Hindutva supporters.
Zubair’s arrest is a textbook case of state-sanctioned persecution of minorities and suppression of independent journalism. Notorious Hindu supremacist leaders continue to spread dangerous hate-speech on Facebook, Twitter, with no police action against them while fact based reporters such as Zubair are hounded by Indian police for doing their job.
This arrest follows the arrest of prominent activist Teesta Setalvad & others who worked to bring justice to victims of 2002 gujarat genocide. It is, as many Indian activists call, an undeclared emergency in India.
We call on the General Secretary of the UN chief and the UN special Rapporteur for human rights defenders, religious freedom and minority rights, to denounce these arrests and call for immediate release of Mohammed Zubair, Teesta Setalvad and other activists who have been arbitrarily arrested in India.