Alt News’ Zubair summoned by Delhi cops in 2020 case, but arrested for a tweet

TNM has seen the email conversation between the Delhi police and Zubair, where the police summoned the journalist for a case that the latter has protection in.
File image of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair against a blue background
File image of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair against a blue background

Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair was summoned by the Delhi police for questioning in a 2020 case, but was arrested under another a new case filed against him. Zubair had been summoned by the Delhi police for questioning in a POCSO case, in which Zubair has protection from arrest, granted by the Delhi High Court. However, once he appeared for questioning, he was arrested in a totally different case, Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha says, and wasn't informed about it beforehand. The new case that was filed against Zubair is over a tweet that he posted in 2018, which the Delhi police said was flagged to them by another Twitter user. 

The Delhi police in a statement said that a complaint was filed by a policeman based on a tweet by a Twitter user with the name “Hanuman Bhakt” and handle “@balajikijaiin” that Zubair had made an ‘objectionable tweet’. The police claimed in their statement that Zubair was being summoned in connection with a complaint regarding a tweet, however they found it was not objectionable. But during the course of the investigation, they were alerted about another tweet, which was objectionable and led to the arrest.  

TNM has seen screenshots of emails between Zubair and Inspector Vijay Kumar of the Delhi Police’s IFSO special cell, which tackles cyber crime cases. On June 24, the inspector asked Zubair to appear before the Delhi police on June 27. Zubair had in an email response sought time to appear before the police, saying that he is willing to cooperate with the police and join the probe, just as he had in the past, but sought ten days’ time to appear before them, as his father-in-law was unwell.

Zubair wrote to the police saying that he is based in Bengaluru and that he would not be able to appear at such short notice amid a family health emergency. He also said that he had previously joined the investigation on June 13, and said that he would be more than willing to cooperate in the probe. 

However, since the Delhi police did not grant him more time, Zubair appeared before the police on Monday, June 27. Zubair was called to the police station for questioning in connection with a 2020 POCSO case, but was later arrested under charges of trying to cause communal disharmony. He has been arrested under charges of provocation and outraging religious beliefs. The Delhi police said that he is being produced before the Magistrate for seeking further police remand for the purpose of the investigation of the case.

"Zubair was called today by a special cell, Delhi for investigation in a 2020 case for which he already had a protection against arrest from the High Court. However, today at around 6.45pm we were told he has been arrested in some other FIR for which no notice was given which is mandatory under law for the Sections under which he has been arrested," Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha said in a tweet. 

Police statement on Zubair’s arrest

“In the month of June, 2022, when Delhi Police was alerted by a twitter handle that Mohammad Zubair had earlier made an objectionable tweet and his followers/social media entities had amplified and created a series of debates/hate mongering in the tread, he was examined in this case i.e FIR no. 172/22 u/s 153A/295A IPC and his role was found objectionable. He was evasive on the questions and neither provided the necessary technical equipment for the purpose of the investigation nor cooperated in the investigation,” the Delhi police said. (sic) 

“During investigation, the conduct of Mohammed Zubair was found questionable, which warranted his custodial interrogation to unravel the conspiracy in this matter. Accordingly, he has been arrested and is being produced before the court for seeking police custody remand,” the Delhi police added. (sic)

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