Fact-checking website, Alt news' co-founder Mohammed Zubair was arrested in the national capital on Monday for allegedly hurting sentiments of a particular religious community, the police said.
The police had registered a case after getting a complaint from a Twitter handle, where it was alleged that Zubair had tweeted a questionable image with the purpose of deliberately hurting religious sentiments.
"Such tweets were getting re-tweeted and it appeared that there is a brigade of social media entities, who indulge in insult mongering thereby leading to a possible ramification on communal harmony and is overall against the maintenance of public tranquility," Deputy Commissioner of Police KPS Malhotra told IANS.
On Monday, Zubair joined the investigation in a case that was registered at the Special Cell police station.
During the probe, the police had given a status report, wherein the tweet by Mohammad Zubair was not found objectionable even though subsequent tweets after his tweet led to a series of questionable and derogatory tweets.
"In the investigation of this case, he had been earlier examined and the investigation is on the verge of conclusion," the police officer said.
However, earlier this month the police was alerted by a Twitter handle that Mohammad Zubair had earlier made an objectionable tweet and his followers on social media entities had amplified and created a series of debates and hate-mongering in the thread.
"He was examined in this separate case under sections 153A (doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the IPC and his role was found objectionable," Malhotra said.
It was officially learnt that Zubair was evasive on the questions and also 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 senior police officer said.
The official further said Zubair is being presented before the magistrate for seeking further police custody remand for the purpose of the investigation of the case.
Opposition comes in support of Zubair
Reacting to the arrest of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said "the arrest of one voice of truth will only give rise to a thousand more".
"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", said Gandhi in a tweet using the hashtag #DaroMat.
Journalist and Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday evening on charges of hurting religious sentiments under sections of the Indian Penal Code.
The police had registered a case after getting a complaint from a twitter handle, where it was alleged that Zubair had tweeted a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately hurt religious sentiments.
Terming the arrest as an assault on truth, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor demanded his immediate release. "India's few fact-checking services, especially @AltNews, perform a vital service in our post-truth political environment, rife with disinformation. They debunk falsehoods whoever perpetrates them. To arrest @zoo_bear is an assault on truth. He should be released immediately," said Tharoor in a tweet.
Former Minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also tweeted and said: "Altnews & @zoo_bear 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".
Nupur Sharma controversy
Pertinent to mention here that Zubair was the first person to share suspended Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nupur Sharma's alleged remarks against Prophet Muhammad during a TV debate.
The controversial statement made by Nupur Sharma set off an international furore.
Several Muslim nations, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Indonesia and Iran, as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation have 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 allegedly made insulting comment 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.
(With inputs from IANS)