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Delhi Police gets 4-day remand of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair

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New Delhi, Jun 28: Delhi Police on Tuesday got 4-day remand of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair. He was arrested on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and promoting enmity.

He was produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Court after the expiry of his one-day custodial interrogation. As calls grow for the immediate release of the journalist, the Delhi Police claimed before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Sarvaria that the accused was following a trend where he used religious tweets in an effort to get famous.

Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair

"This was a deliberate effort on his part to create social disharmony and hurt religious feelings," the police alleged. The accused, however, alleged that the police is abusing its power and wanted a ''fishing enquiry''.

The police submitted before the court that Zubair did not cooperate with the investigating agency and that his custodial interrogation was required to gather information regarding the device from which the tweet was made by him.

During the hearing, Zubair's counsel Vrinda Grover said the photo which the accused used in the tweets is of an old Hindi film from 1983 by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, "Kissi Se Na Kehna", and that the movie was not banned.

The court, however, rejected the submission saying it was of no assistance to the accused at this stage.

"Considering that mobile phone/laptop of accused used by him for posting the tweet in question is to be recovered at the instance of accused Mohammed Zubair from his Bangalore residence and that accused has remained non-cooperative and the disclosure statement on record, four days PC (police custody) remand of accused is granted since accused is to be taken to Bangalore," the judge said in a 3-page order.

The judge then directed that Zubair be produced before the court on July 2. Police had sought an extension of Zubair's custody by five days.

Grover opposed the police plea alleging that it had called Zubair for questioning in some other case but he was arrested in the present case in haste.

She said the tweet in question was published by Zubair in 2018.

"Someone recently tweeted Zubair's tweet of 2018, and the present case was filed. The anonymous Twitter handle had its very first tweet, which cited Zubair's tweet, which has been picked up by police. The agency is playing mischief," the counsel said.

In any case, the Twitter handle using Zubair's tweet is not the spokesperson of all the Hanuman devotees, she added.

"They're claiming that I edited the photo in question. The tweet is present there since 2018. Since 2018 that tweet has not created a flutter. Multiple Twitter users had shared the picture. Prima facie there is no case.'' "Police is trying to create media hype, media frenzy. Police are abusing their power. They wanted my (Zubair's) laptop because I am a journalist and there is various sensitive information in it. They want a fishing enquiry," Grover said.

KPS Malhotra, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations), told PTI that a four-member police team will be sent to Bengaluru on Wednesday to Zubair's house as part of investigations to recover the evidence, including the mobile phone or laptop used by him for posting the tweet in question.

Earlier this month, a case was registered against Zubair under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language etc.) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). But as per Delhi Police, he was arrested in connection with one of his tweets that had a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai Press Club condemned the arrest of Mohammad Zubair. In a statement, the Mumbai Press Club said, "Zubair should be released immediately. We also request Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah's immediate intervention in this matter."

Many other journalists' organizations have also condemned Zubair's arrest by the police in the national capital. Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha has alleged that Zubair was arrested in a case for which no notice was given by the police, which is mandatory under law for the sections under which he has been held, the Mumbai Press Club noted in the statement. PTI

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