Was fact-checker Zubair arrested for being evasive, uncooperative?

Alt news’ co-founder Mohammed Zubair was arrested as he was not at all being cooperative with the police in the investigation of a case registered against him, a senior Delhi Police official said on Tuesday.

Zubair came into major limelight after he posted BJP’s now suspended spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s controversial comment on Prophet Mohammed. He was arrested on Monday for his objectionable tweets which he posted in 2018.

After his arrest, the police said he was not cooperating with the investigation. “We had served him a notice under section 41 A of the CrPc, but he was evasive and not cooperating in the investigation,” the official told IANS.

The official said that Zubair was “evasive on the questions” and neither provided the necessary technical equipment for the purpose of the investigation nor cooperated in the investigation.

“During investigation, the conduct of Mohammed Zubair was found questionable, which warranted his custodial interrogation to unravel the conspiracy in this matter,” the official added.

The section 41 A of the Code of Criminal Procedure deals with the notice of appearance before police officers.

Under this, the police officer shall, in all cases where the arrest of a person is not required, issue a notice directing the person against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or credible information has been received, or a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed a cognizable offence, to appear before him or at such other place as may be specified in the notice.

When such a notice is issued to any person, it shall be the duty of that person to comply with the terms of the notice. When such person complies and continues to comply with the notice, he shall not be arrested in respect of the offence referred to in the notice unless, for reasons to be recorded, the police officer is of the opinion that he ought to be arrested.

And when the person being questioned is not cooperative, the law says that if such person, at any time, fails to comply with the terms of the notice or is unwilling to identify himself, the police officer may, subject to such orders as may have been passed by a competent court in this behalf, arrest him for the offence mentioned in the notice.

The official said that the counsel for the accused Mohammed Zubair moved application for grant of bail, however, the same was heard at length and not finding the merits, the bail was ultimately declined.

The 33-year-old fact-checker is currently under police custody and is being interrogated over one of his objectionable tweets which he posted in 2018. After Zubair’s tweet, his followers on social media entities amplified and created a series of debates and hate mongering in the thread.

“He was examined in this separate case and his role was found objectionable,” the official said.

The police have charged Zubair with Indian Penal Code sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).

Sources told IANS that the tweet for which Zubair is being questioned is 4 years old. In the said tweet, accused Zubair had used a screengrab of an old Hindi movie which showed an image of a hotel, with its board reading ‘Hanuman hotel’ instead of ‘Honeymoon hotel’.

In his tweet, Zubair had written, “BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel”.

Meanwhile, the Opposition left no chance to train guns at the present dispensation and accused them of curbing free speech and targeting those who are exposing the BJP.

“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. Truth ALWAYS triumphs over tyranny,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi soon after the news of fact-checker’s arrest broke out.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that Altnews and Zubair have been in the forefront of exposing the “bogus claims of the Vishguru”, who has struck back with a vengeance characteristic of him. “Delhi Police, reporting to the Union Home Minister, has long lost any pretensions of professionalism and independence,” he said.

Pertinent to mention here that Zubair was the first person to share former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nupur Sharma’s alleged remarks against Prophet Mohammed during a TV debate.

The controversial statement made by Nupur Sharma set off an international furore. Several Muslim nations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Indonesia and Iran, as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation officially protested their statements and demanded an apology.

Following the uproar, the Bharatiya Janata Party suspended Sharma and another leader, Naveen Kumar Jindal, who also made insulting comments against Prophet Muhammad on social media.

However, soon after her comments, Sharma was targeted on social media and received thousands of death threats following which the police provided a security cover to her.

She had lodged a complaint with the Delhi Police on May 27 alleging that she had been receiving death threats and was a target of hatred.

(Ujwal Jalali can be reached at ujwal.j@ians.in)




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