NEW DELHI: Alt News co-founder and fact-checker Mohammed Zubair was not cooperating in the investigation. He was also not ready to submit the device from which he made the alleged tweet hurting religious sentiments, Delhi police said on Monday.
Zubair was arrested by the IFSO Unit of the Special Cell based on the FIR it registered on June 20 this year. In the FIR it was alleged that his tweet was found “highly provocative and more than sufficient to incite the feeling of hatred” amongst people which can be detrimental to the maintenance of public tranquillity in the society.
It is further said that transmission and publication of such posts have been deliberately done by Zubair through electronic media to incite the religious feelings of a particular community with the intent to provoke a breach of the peace which attracts offence under Section 153 A/295 of the Indian Penal Code.
Zubair was produced before a Delhi court, which sent him to one-day police custody.
In its application to the court, the police said, “Per-contra, it is submitted by the IO that subsequent to issuance of 41-A notice, the accused person has joined the investigation. However, the accused person has refused to answer most of the questions put to him and even refused to sign the paper.”
“It is further submitted by the IO that the accused person is not cooperating in the investigation and one day of police custody is required to gather the information regarding the device from which the tweet is made by the accused person. It is further submitted by the IO the accused person has made many tweets,” the police said.
In its order, the court said, “It is pertinent to mention that pursuant to Notice under 41-A, the accused person has joined the investigation, however, he is not cooperating with the investigative agency as he is refused to answer the questions which are being put to him. If the accused person is not cooperating with the investigative agency than the whole purpose of giving the notice under 41-A would be futile.”
“Hence, considering the above facts and circumstances, this court is not inclined to admit the accused person on bail at this stage,” the court said, sending Zubair to one-day police custody.
The court also allowed Zubair’s lawyer to meet him once a day for half an hour in police custody to provide legal assistance.
After the arrest of Zubair, the Delhi Police in a statement said that during the course of the investigation registered at PS-Special Cell, Zubair joined in the investigation of the case and after having sufficient evidence on record, he was arrested in the present case.
Delhi Police officials said they had registered a case after getting a complaint from a Twitter handle which had alleged that Zubair had “tweeted a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion”.
“Such tweets were getting retweeted 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 tranquillity,” the officials added.
In the tweet, Zubair shared a picture that shows a hotel board that reads ‘Hanuman Hotel’ in Hindi. Paint marks suggest that it was earlier called ‘Honeymoon Hotel’ and the ‘Honeymoon’ was changed to ‘Hanuman’.
Zubair wrote in the tweet, “Before 2014: Honeymoon Hotel, After 2014: Hanuman Hotel”.
Zubair, who refers to himself as a fact-checker with his Instagram handle as instagram.com/zoo_bear, has more than 5.4 lakh followers. He frequently shares screenshots of Paytm deposits at Alt News, with donations running from a few hundred rupees to thousands, every month through crowd-funding.