Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair sent to 14-day judicial custody
A court in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday sent Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair to 14-day judicial custody in connection with a case lodged against him for allegedly promoting enmity. Zubair appeared before the court via video conferencing from UP's Sitapur district jail, where he is lodged currently. The next hearing on the plea for his police custody has been fixed for Wednesday.
- In June, the Delhi Police arrested Zubair after registering an FIR based on a right-wing social media account's complaint.
- Later, the Sitapur Police booked Zubair for terming religious leaders Mahant Bajrang Muni Udasin, Yati Narsinghanand, and Swami Anand Swarup "hatemongers" on Twitter.
- Then, on Friday, the Lakhimpur Kheri Police obtained a warrant against Zubair in a one-year-old case allegedly for promoting enmity between groups.
Journalist Ashish Kumar Katiyar registered a case against Zubair in 2021, accusing him of spreading false news to disrupt communal harmony, the police said. Zubair was charged with violating the Indian Penal Code Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups). A few days ago, Zubair was transferred to Sitapur from Delhi where he was incarcerated in relation to a separate case lodged last week.
Notably, Zubair was initially arrested after highlighting comments made by former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma on Prophet Muhammad in a TV debate in May. Sharma's remarks led to a diplomatic row, with a number of Muslim countries, including Qatar, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, condemning the BJP. Subsequently, the Centre was compelled to distance itself from Sharma's statements, while the BJP suspended her in June.
ANI earlier reported that the case against Zubair registered in the national capital was based on a complaint by Twitter user Hanuman Bhakt (@balajikijaiin) over a 2018 tweet against Lord Hanuman. Alongside an image of a hotel signboard, Zubair wrote, "BEFORE 2014: Honeymoon Hotel. After 2014: Hanuman Hotel." The user urged cops to take action as Zubair's tweet was a "direct insult to Hindus."