Scribe arrested in Andamans over corona tweet

Port Blair: A well-known journalist was arrested in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands over a tweet where he questioned the rationale of the authorities allegedly asking people to be home-quarantined after they had spoken to COVID-19 patients by phone, police said on Wednesday.

The charges under which Zubair Ahmed has been booked include one about circulating “rumour”.

Zubair Ahmed, the editor of ‘Light of Andaman, a popular weekly newspaper which is now published online, was summoned to the Bambooflat police station in South Andaman district on April 27 for questioning over his tweet and then arrested, police said on Tuesday.

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He was then taken to the Aberdeen police station where he spent the night in a lockup, it said.

“Can someone explain why families are placed under home quarantine for speaking over phone with Covid patients?” he tweeted on Monday, tagging the local administration.

In another tweet a day earlier, he said: “Request #Covid19 quarantined persons not to call any acquaintance over phone. People are being traced and quarantined on the basis of phone calls.”

Ahmed was produced before a court on Tuesday afternoon which granted him bail.

He has been charged under IPC sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 505 (1) that relates to publishing or circulating any statement, rumour or report, police said.

Besides, sections 51 and 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 were also slapped. While Section 51 deals with punishment for obstruction, Section 54 pertains to punishment for false warning.

Andaman and Nicobar Media Federation President K Ganesan condemned the arrest.

The Bambooflat area has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the Union Territory and is a hotspot. Over 20 people from there have tested positive for the coronavirus infection.

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