Journalist Mohammad Zubair held for sharing snap from a 1983 movie

Zubair's earlier posts dated as back as 2017 are being used to create a narrative that he is "Hinduphobic." But the real purpose is to harm Zubair for exposing the blatant lies of the BJP government.

Alt News editor and co-founder Mohammad Zubair was arrested on the night of June 27 by the Delhi police. According to the police, Zubair had posted a clip which is “objectionable and hurts religious sentiments of the Hindus.”

In fact, the truth is the post is a clip from a 1983 Hindi movie – Kissi Se Na Kehna – a romantic comedy directed by the legendary Hrishikesh Mukherjee. The post is an old post dated March 24, 2018.

The complaint was raised by a Twitter handle @balajikijaiin who goes by the name Hanuman Bhakt. Joined in October 2021, the Twitter handle has just one post posted on June 19. The handle has currently 1,381 followers.

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The Twitter handle took objection to Zubair’s old post and lodged an FIR with the Delhi Police stating the journalist’s post contains an objectionable image.

A senior police officer said the tweet purportedly showed a hotel’s picture, with its board reading ‘Honeymoon hotel’ repainted to ‘Hanuman hotel’. The complainant posted a screenshot, tagged Delhi Police, and wrote: “Linking our God Hanuman ji with honeymoon is a direct insult of Hindus because he is brahmchari. Kindly take action against this guy @delhipolice.”

“We came across the tweet last week. Zubair posted this tweet in 2018 but people have been raising the issue recently. We took action and registered an FIR,” the officer said, speaking to the Indian Express.

The Delhi Police FIR states, “These words and the picture found to be used by Mohammed Zubair @zoo_bear against a particular religious community and are highly provocative and more than sufficient to incite feelings of hatred amongst people which can be detrimental for maintenance of public tranquillity in the society.”

Zubair was arrested under sections 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 295 (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.

According to the report, deputy commissioner of police K P S Malhotra said, “Delhi Police has registered a case after getting a complaint from a Twitter handle, wherein it was alleged that Mohammed Zubair had tweeted a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion.”

According to an interview given to the news agency ANI, senior officials from the Delhi Police said that the Zubair was evasive and neither provided the necessary technical equipment nor cooperated in the investigation.

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Zubair’s arrest created a huge uproar from the journalist community who outrageously opposed the arrest. Politicians such as Congressman Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, AIMIM chief Assauddin Owaisi, TMC leader Derek O Brian, Mahua Moitra and many others tweeted against Zubair’s arrest.

Zubair has been under the radar of hard-core Hindutva leaders who coined him the term “Hinduphobic”.

Though Zubair has been targeted many times in the past for his posts, the police were unable to arrest him due to insufficient evidence.

However, the recent derogatory remarks on the Prophet by the now-suspended Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nupur Sharma made Zubair come into the spotlight again when he posted a clip from Times Nows, anchored by its Groups Editor Navika Kumar, where Nupur blatantly spoke against the Prophet.

He called out Navika Kumar and Times Group Editor Vineet Jain to allow hate to be spilt on prime-time news television shows.

Zubair’s tweet got the attention of Islamic countries that condemned the Indian Government and threatened to boycott Indian products. In retaliation, the BJP-led Central Government suspended Nupur.

However, Nupur had given several interviews where she mentioned that if something happens to her or her family, Mohammad Zubair is responsible. Zubair then started getting targetted by Hindutva trolls.  The hashtag #ArrestMohammedZubair began to trend nationally.

India also witnessed a sea of protests from the Muslim community in various states such as Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Two young Muslim men were killed in the protests.

Zubair’s earlier posts dated as back as 2017 are being used to create a narrative that he is “Hinduphobic.” But the real purpose is to harm Zubair for exposing the blatant lies of the BJP government.

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