Mohammed Zubair is an Indian journalist and co-founder of an Indian non-profit fact-checking website called Alt News. He made headlines on 27 June 2022 when he was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets posted in 2018.
- 1 Wiki/Biography
- 2 Family
- 3 Career
- 4 Controversies
- 4.1 Booked Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act
- 4.2 Flagged Nupur Sharma’s Derogatory Remarks On Prophet Muhammad
- 4.3 Calling Mahant Bajrang Muni ‘Udasin’, Yati Narsinghanand, and Swami Anand Swarup “Hatemongers”
- 4.4 Booked for Hurting Religious Sentiments
- 4.5 Interim Bail
- 4.6 Spreading Hate Against Cricketer Arshdeep Singh
- 5 Facts/Trivia
Mohammed Zubair was born on December 29 and hails from Bengaluru, Karnataka. His zodiac sign is Capricorn.
He belongs to a Muslim family. Not much is known about his parents and siblings.
Zubair has worked as a software engineer with telecom giant Nokia for more than 10 years. In 2017, Mohammed Zubair and former software engineer Pratik Sinha founded the Alt News website to combat the phenomenon of fake news. For about a year, Zubair only aided Sinha in running the site meanwhile continuing to work for Nokia. He finally quit his job at Nokia in September 2018 and joined Alt News as a full-time employee. On 16 December 2019, he became a director of the Pravda Media Foundation, which runs Alt News.
Booked Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act
In August 2020, Delhi Police booked Zubair in a POCSO case based on a complaint filed by Priyank Kanoongo, the chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Two FIRs were lodged against him in Delhi and Raipur. On August 6, while responding to an abusive message from a Twitter user named Jagdish Singh, Zubair used Singh’s display picture featuring a little girl, who was perhaps Singh’s granddaughter. Zubair blurred her face in the image posted and tweeted,
Hello Jagdish Singh, Does your cute granddaughter know about your part time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you to change your profile pic.”
The NCPCR sought action against Zubair for “stalking of a minor girl on Twitter”. However, the Delhi High Court granted interim protection from arrest to Zubair in September 2020. In October 2020, the Chhattisgarh High Court passed a similar order.
Flagged Nupur Sharma’s Derogatory Remarks On Prophet Muhammad
In May 2022, BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma made controversial comments about the Prophet Muhammad during a TV debate on the channel Times Now, which outraged the Muslim community. Mohammed Zubair shared a clip of her outburst on Twitter flagging Sharma’s derogatory remarks on Prophet Muhammad. Consequently, she accused Zubair of peddling a fake narrative to vitiate the atmosphere, causing communal disharmony & cause communal, and spreading hatred against her and her family. She blamed Zubair for the rape threats she received from social media users after Zubair’s tweet.
Prime Time debates in India have become a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill about other religions. @TimesNow‘s Anchor @navikakumar is encouraging a rabid communal hatemonger & a BJP Spokesperson to speak rubbish which can incite riots. Shame on you @vineetjaintimes pic.twitter.com/lrUlkHEJp5
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) May 27, 2022
Calling Mahant Bajrang Muni ‘Udasin’, Yati Narsinghanand, and Swami Anand Swarup “Hatemongers”
An FIR was lodged in Uttar Pradesh at the beginning of June 2022 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by calling Mahant Bajrang Muni ‘Udasin’, Yati Narsinghanand and Swami Anand Swarup “hatemongers” on Twitter. The FIR was lodged on a complaint from Bhagwan Sharan, who is the Sitapur unit chief of the Hindu Sher Sena.
Booked for Hurting Religious Sentiments
On 27 June 2022, he was arrested by the Delhi Police in a case related to an objectionable tweet on a Hindu deity he posted in 2018. The picture he posted in his tweet was from a 1983 Hindi film by Hrishikesh Mukherjee “Kissi Se Na Kehna.” A handle namely Hanuman Bhakt @balajikijaiiin shared Zubair’s tweet which read,
Before 2014: Honeymoon HotelAfter 2014: Hanuman Hotel#SanskaariHotel
According to the FIR, Bhakt @balajikijaiiin tweeted, “Linking our God Hanuman Ji with Honey Moon is a direct insult of Hindus because he is brahmachari. Kindly take action against this guy.” He was booked under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between religious groups) and 295 (injuring or defiling a place of worship, with intent to insult the religion of any class) of the IPC. Thereafter, he was produced before a magistrate, who sent him to police custody for a day. Zubair’s lawyer Vrinda Grover argued that many social media users had tweeted the same post, but only Zubair was targeted by police. Grover also alleged that it was Zubair’s Muslim faith, name, and profession which made him a target of police. On 28 June 2022, Zubair was remanded in 4-day police custody. His arrest raised concerns about deteriorating journalistic freedoms in India.
On 20 July 2022, the Supreme Court granted him interim bail in connection with six cases that Uttar Pradesh police had registered against him accusing him of hurting religious feelings through his Twitter posts. A Bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud, Surya Kant, and A.S. Bopanna told the U.P. government –
The existence of the power to arrest must be distinguished from the exercise of the power of arrest. The exercise of the power of arrest must be pursued sparingly.”
Spreading Hate Against Cricketer Arshdeep Singh
In September 2022, BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa filed a police complaint against Zubair and alleged that Zubair spread hate through his tweets against cricketer Arshdeep Singh who dropped a crucial catch against Pakistan in Asia Cup that led to India’s defeat in the game. According to Sirsa, most of Zubair’s tweets were from “Pakistani accounts” that targeted Arshdeep Singh and the Sikh community.
- Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres, while responding to a question at the daily news briefing in the United States, talked about Zubair’s arrest and said,
In any place around the world, it is very important that people be allowed to express themselves freely, journalists be allowed to express themselves freely and without the threat of any harassment…Journalists should not be jailed for what they write, what they tweet and what they say. And that goes for anywhere in the world, including in this room.”
- In the aftermath of his arrest in June 2022, various media houses reported that Zubair’s bank account had transactions over Rs 50 lakh in the previous days. Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha denied the allegations against Zubair via a tweet citing that the police were linking donations received by Alt News to Zubair.
Fact-check: Absolutely lies. Police is linking donations received by Alt News to Zubair. All the money that Alt News receives goes to the organisations bank and not any individuals. The bank statement of Zubair’s personal account of which I have a copy debunks this falsehood. pic.twitter.com/esrmEVpTPp
— Pratik Sinha (@free_thinker) June 28, 2022
- Mohammed Zubair was included in the Peace Research Institute Oslo’s nomination list for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize along with his co-founder Pratik Sinha.