A journalist based in Andaman and Nicobar islands got bail after he was arrested by the police for his tweet over the quarantining of those people engaged in a telephonic conversation with the Covid-19 patient.
The alleged arrest has stirred the journalist and media fraternity for the continuing obstructive actions against them by the police authorities.
Journo arrested allegedly over a tweet
Zubair Ahmed, the journo, has been booked by the police for his recent tweet that questioned the logical reason behind quarantining a family for engaging in telephone calls with the patients tested positive for the contagion.
"Can someone explain why families are placed under home quarantine for speaking over phone with Covid patients?" read his tweet.
Recently, a report was published in Andaman Chronicle on a family of four members in Haddo, a town in Andaman, sent to home quarantine as one among them rang a relative who had tested positive for coronavirus over the phone.
Few hours after the call, says Andaman Chronicle, the entire family was put on home quarantine including the 70-year old man who has called his relative to enquire on their health conditions. The family comprises three other members who are also asked to join the elderly person. According to the report, the family is now confused if calling up their relative is a crime in the country or is it a safety measure that the concerned authorities wants them to follow.
Zubair was referring to this report published on April 26 and tweeted the next day, although the news wasn't mentioned.
In his another tweet, he wrote, "Request #Covid19 quarantined persons not to call any acquaintance over phone. People are being traced and quarantined on the basis of phone calls. #StaySafeStayHome"
According to Andaman Chronicle editor-in-chief Denis Giles' reports to the media, four people from Bambooflat police station reached Zubair's home and told him that he had been summoned to the Aberdeen police station as the Superintendent of Police there wanted to question him about his tweet.
Multiple charges filed
The journalist has been booked under Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (Punishment for obstruction) and Sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 505(1)(b) (Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause fear or alarm among the public). Additionally, he was later also charged under Section 54 (Punishment for false warning) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Giles condemned the officials act questioning on the credibility of the FIR filed against Zubair. "How can they register an FIR just for asking a question? There's a complete monopoly on the way information is disseminated in Andaman. The only information we get is through tweets by Chetan Sanghi, the Chief Secretary. There are no press briefings, no bulletins, so where do we get information?" he asks.
The family under quarantine, meanwhile questions on the failure from the authorities for not keeping the public aware of the 'prohibitions' over the telephonic calls with a Covid patient.
Although the family willingly accepted to remain isolated for the prescribed period, the reason for the act by the authorities, they say, is not convincing and can lead to a panic situation amid the neighbourhood.