In recognition of his commitment to promote communal harmony through fact-checking and responsible reporting, Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair has been conferred the Kottai Ameer Communal Harmony Award by the Tamil Nadu government for the year 2024. The award was given to him following his website’s fact-check about a video that went viral which falsely claimed that migrant workers were under attack in Tamil Nadu. Zubair hails from Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu.
“His work helps to prevent the occurrence of violence in society likely to be caused by fake news. In March 2023, there was a rapid spread on social media that migrant workers were being attacked in Tamil Nadu. After verifying the authenticity of the video footage, he has published on his website that the footage in the video posted on social media was not actually taken place in Tamil Nadu and thus stopped the spread of rumours against Tamil Nadu and acted to prevent violence caused by caste, religion. race and language in Tamil Nadu,” the press release said.
The Kottai Ameer Communal Harmony Award is an award presented to a person belonging to Tamil Nadu for their outstanding services rendered to promote communal harmony. This award is presented by the Chief Minister during the Republic Day celebration on January 26 every year. The award carries a Rs 25,000 cash prize, a medal and a certificate.
In March 2023, rumours were spread that north Indian labourers were being assaulted and murdered in Tamil Nadu. Police cases were filed against a BJP spokesperson, Hindi newspapers Dainik Bhaskar, right wing propaganda website OpIndia, YouTubers and Twitter users for spreading unrelated videos of violence and wrongly claiming that migrant workers were under attack in Tamil Nadu.
Zubair has constantly been targeted by the BJP. In June 2022, he was arrested over a case and rearrested over other frivolous cases filed against him. He secured bail in July 2022.