Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of the Alt News fact-checking portal, who spent 23 days in prisons and police custody in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, has said that the Modi government wants to silence all voices of dissent.
Mohammed Zubair in a media interview in New Delhi said, “I think I was made an example of for others. The message was that the government, if it minds, can book 10-15 random FIRs in multiple states and keep you in jail for years, but for the Su-preme Court in my case. The FIRs filed against me are so random and bizarre — two FIRs in Uttar Pradesh are for fact-checking a media channel — which is my job, and another for calling accused in a hate speech case hate mongers in a tweet.
To a question he said, he had in fact anticipated his arrest. “Pratik Sinha and I, at Alt News, for the work we do, always thought we could be arrested anytime. But after the video clip of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments on a tele-vision debate I posted on Twitter went viral and led to a diplomatic issue internationally, I knew it was coming. They did not hide it either. There were Twitter storms and trending hashtags calling for my arrest, blaming the messenger for whatever happened in the country,” he added.
He said he had submitted his mobile phone and SIM card to the police and was waiting to buy a new phone and get a new SIM card. “The first thing I will do is to be back on Twitter, calling out hate speech and fact-checking false claims. That is the only way to fight this. I hope no one else is cowed down and continues the good work. I will be back at Alt News in a week, ” Mohammed Zubair maintained.—KMS