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‘On the Day PM Modi at G7…’: Condemnation over Mohammed Zubair’s arrest grows

It is ironic that Mohammed Zubair’s arrest by the Delhi Police came on a day when India joined G7 and four other countries to protect free speech, the Press Club of India said

Tuesday June 28, 2022 7:17 PM, ummid.com with inputs from Agencies

Mohammed Zubair

New Delhi: More than 24 hours have passed when Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair has been arrested by Delhi Police. However, the condemnation over his arrest is growing with every passing minute.

And at the forefront are Press Club of India, Editor’s Guild of India, Committee to Protect Journalists, DIGIPUB News India Foundation and almost entire top political leadership of India, except the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

Making it worst for the ruling dispensation many of those who vehemently slammed Mohammed Zubair’s arrest invoked Prime Minister Modi’s utterances at G7 Summit in Germany and the agreement India signed that talks about protecting freedom of expression and opinion – both online and offline.

“It is ironic that Mohammed Zubair’s arrest by the Delhi Police came on a day when India joined G7 and four other countries to protect free speech – both online and offline”, Press Club of India said.


“It is disturbing that Delhi Police arrested AltNews co-founder around the same time when PM Modi was associating himself with the noble declaration along with world leaders”, it said.

“Aren’t the Union Home Ministry and Delhi Police on the same page with the Prime Minister on the commitment to freedom of expression?” the Press Club of India asked.

Similarly invoking the G7 agreement and PM Modi's presence at the forum, Editors Guild of India (EGI) demanded Zubair's immediate release saying:

"It (immediate release of Muhammed Zubair) is necessary to buttress the commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the G-7 meet in Germany to ensure a resilient democracy by protecting online and offline content”.

Among global bodies who called upon authorities to immediately release Zubair is the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“The arrest of journalist Mohammad Zubair marks another low for press freedom in India, where the government has created a hostile and unsafe environment for members of the press reporting on sectarian issues,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in Washington D.C.

“Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Zubair, and allow him to pursue his journalistic work without further interference.”

Mohammed Zubair, one of the founders of fact checking website Alt News, was arrested by Delhi Police Monday over a 2018 tweet. The tweet in question is a photo of a hotel used in a Bollywood film with its board reading ‘Honeymoon hotel’ repainted to ‘Hanuman hotel’.

The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, journalists and media executives defending press freedom has also condemned the arrest and called for Zubair’s immediate release.

“The IPI global network strongly condemns yesterday's arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair over a tweet that allegedly insulted religious beliefs”, IPI said.

“Indian authorities must uphold free expression and press freedom. Zubair must be immediately freed”, it added.

Among the political leaders who condemned Zubair’s arrest included senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra, PDP leader and former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, AIMIM Chief and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi and others.

The BJP on the other hand lashed out at opposition parties for protesting against the arrest of activist Teesta Setalvad and Mohammed Zubair alleging that they were working as part of a “poisonous ecosystem” where one offender protects another if anyone is caught.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police today defended its action against Zubair and sought police custody for further investigation. The Delhi Court after hearing the lawyers from both the sides granted the police 4-day custody.


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