AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL INDIA
Responding to the arrest of Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of ALT News, an independent fact-checking website by the Delhi Police late on Monday night for allegedly ‘hurting religious sentiments’ and ‘promoting enmity’ on Twitter, Aakar Patel, chair of board for Amnesty International India, said:
“The Indian authorities are targeting Mohammed Zubair for his crucial work combatting the rise in fake news and disinformation and calling out discrimination against minorities. The arrest of Mohammed Zubair shows the danger facing human rights defenders in India has reached a crisis point.”
The arrest of Mohammed Zubair shows the danger facing human rights defenders in India has reached a crisis point.Aakar Patel, chair of board for Amnesty International India
“The fact that he was not provided a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and was detained incommunicado during the initial hours following his arrest shows just how brazen the Indian authorities have become. Harassment, intimidation, unlawful and arbitrary arrests, and imprisonment of human rights defenders for tirelessly seeking truth and justice has become alarmingly commonplace in India.”
“We call on the Delhi Police to immediately and unconditionally release Mohammed Zubair and end their relentless harassment of journalists, human rights defenders, and activists. His arrest is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression, abuse of power by the authorities and sends a message that dissent is not tolerated in the country.”
On 27 June, Mohammed Zubair was taken into custody for “promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc. and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony” and “outraging religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” under the Indian Penal Code for his satirical tweets criticising the rising censorship and calling out discrimination against minorities during the tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pratik Sinha, another co-founder of ALT News who was present at the police station with him tweeted that they had not been given a copy of the FIR and the Delhi police was taking Mohammed Zubair to an undisclosed location.