“This is extremely disturbing because Zubair and his website AltNews have done some exemplary work over the past few years in identifying fake news and countering disinformation campaigns, in a very objective and factual manner”, said EGI.
Editors Guild of India (EGI) on Tuesday condemned the arrest of Muhammad Zubair, co-founder of the fact checking site AltNews, by the Delhi Police on June 27, for a tweet from 2018.
In a bizarre turn of events, Zubair was called in for questioning by the special cell of Delhi Police in a case from 2020, for which he already had a protection against arrest from the Delhi High Court. However, when Zubair responded to the summons, he was arrested in relation to a criminal investigation initiated earlier in the month, after an anonymous twitter handle alleged that Zubair’s 2018 post was hurting religious sentiments, said a press note jointly issued by Seema Mustafa, President EGI; Sanjay Kapoor, General Secretary EGI and Anant Nath, Treasurer EGI.
Zubair has been arrested under sections 153 and 295 of the Indian Penal Code. “This is extremely disturbing because Zubair and his website AltNews have done some exemplary work over the past few years in identifying fake news and countering disinformation campaigns, in a very objective and factual manner. In fact it was an exposure of toxic remarks of a ruling party spokesperson on a TV channel that allowed the party to make amends”, said the press note.
“It is apparent that AltNews’ alert vigilance was resented by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarise the society and rake nationalist sentiments”, EGI press note further added.
EGI has demanded that the Delhi Police should immediately release Muhammad Zubair. “This is necessary to buttress the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the G7 meet in Germany to ensure a resilient democracy by protecting online and offline content”, pointed out EGI.