Updated 29 Jun 2022, 4:24 am
The Press Club of India (PCI) on Tuesday condemned the arrest of AltNews co-founder Muhammad Zubair and demanded that Muhammad Zubair be released immediately.
Muhammad Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday for a tweet of 2018 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
"It is ironic that Muhammad Zubair's arrest by the Delhi Police came on a day when India joined G 7 and four other countries to protect free speech online and offiine. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the G7 meet in Germany where the signatories also committed to "protect freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and promoting inter-faith dialogue," the Press Club of India said in a statement.
The PCI reiterated that Freedom of Expression is an essential ingredient of democracy.
lndia signed "2022 Resilient Democracies Statement" only yesterday at G7 summit in Germany which reiterated the commitment to guarding the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors and protecting the freedom of expression and opinion online and offline, the PCI stated, adding that it is disturbing that Delhi Police arrested AltNews co-founder around the same time when PM Modi was associating himself with the noble declaration along with world leaders.
The PCI also questioned if the Union Home Ministry and Delhi Police are not on the same page with the Prime Minister on the commitment to freedom of expression.
"The action by the Delhi Police in hastily arresting Muhammad Zubair showed the blatant violation of the country's commitment on the global platform given by none other than the Prime Minister himself," read the PCI statement
As a fact-checking site, AltNews was acting as an instrument to cut through the jungle of disinformation which was being spread through fake news with an aim to create fissures in the society, the PCI stated. Constant vigilance is the price which we pay for being a vibrant, diverse and largest democracy in the world and AltNews was fulfilling that role. It is saddening to know that Muhammad Zubair had to pay the price for vigilance by his uncalled for arrest for a post made in 2018, the PCI stated.
It is inexplicable that action is being initiated after years without giving notice for a post which the police describe as "highly provocative." The coercive action defies both the law and common sense. The PCI demands that AltNews co-founder be released by the Delhi Police immediately, it stated while adding, "We also see the arrest of activist Teesta Setalvad as very disturbing as it also smacks of vendetta".
First published:28 Jun 2022, 1:21 pm
PCIMuhammad Zubair arrestedPress club of IndiaDelhi policeMuhammad ZubairNupur sharmaAltNews