Mohammed Zubair: India’s Supreme Court grants bail to Alt News journalist accused of insulting Hindus

Zubair – co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, which debunks misinformation in Indian media – was arrested by Delhi police on June 27 after a Twitter user accused him of insulting Hindus in a 2018 article about renaming a hotel after a Hindu god.

Zubair had previously been released on bail for the case in Delhi, but remained in custody after several police complaints were filed against him in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in June and July for separate social media posts.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court said all outstanding cases would be combined and investigated by a special Delhi police unit, and ordered his release by 6 p.m. local time.

Zubair often tweets criticism of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for what he and other critics claim is a crackdown on the rights of the country’s estimated 200 million Muslims.

Among his recent social media posts are videos he says show Hindu extremists making hate speech against Islam, a minority religion in India where almost 80% of the population is Hindu.

Zubair’s arrest came amid repeated accusations from critics that the BJP is using colonial-era laws to nullify all forms of criticism and encourage self-censorship, and was condemned by freedom activists. ‘expression.

In early June, Zubair had shed light on derogatory comments by a BJP spokesperson about the Islamic prophet Muhammad that sparked a diplomatic row with several Gulf states.

Spokeswoman Nurpur Sharma was suspended by the BJP after at least 15 Muslim-majority countries condemned her remarks, with several of them summoning India’s ambassadors.

In a statement after Zubair’s arrest in June, the Editors Guild of India said it was “clear that Alt News’ vigilance is felt by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarize society and stir up nationalist feelings”.

Early Thursday, Pratik Sinha, co-founder of Alt News, posted a photo of himself with Zubair on Twitter, thanking their followers.

“Zubair would like to express their deepest gratitude to everyone who has supported and supported us over the past few weeks,” Sinha said. wrote. “He will be back very soon.”


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