#IStandWithZubair Trends At #1 Worldwide After Mohammad Zubair Remanded To 4-Day Police Custody For Sharing Movie Clip
The Twitter hashtag #IStandWithZubair trended at #1 worldwide as international outrage and support erupted for Mohammad Zubair, Muslim journalist and co-founder of the news portal AltNews, who has been remanded to 4-day police custody after he was arrested on the ludicrous accusation that he had offended Hindu religious sentiments.
Zubair was arrested on Monday after a Hindu supremacist Twitter user with a single follower found Zubair’s tweet from 2018, in which he shared a clip from a 1983 Hindi movie. The clip shows a hotel signboard, which reads ‘Honeymoon hotel’ repainted to ‘Hanuman (Hindu deity) hotel.’
“These words and the picture found to be used by Mohammed Zubair against a particular religious community are highly provocative and more than sufficient to incite feelings of hatred amongst people,” Delhi police claimed in their police report following Zubair’s arrest.
The absurdity of the charges have led to an outpouring of support for Zubair, including from the Editors’ Guild of India, which released a statement on Twitter condemning the “bizarre” actions of the Delhi police.
DIGIPUB, a body of digital news media organizations, condemned Zubair’s arrest “in the strongest possible terms,” adding in a statement, “It is unjustifiable that such stringent laws are being used as tools against journalists, who have been accorded the role of playing watchdog against the misuse of the institutions of the state.”
Journalist CJ Werleman wrote, “The arrest of prominent Indian Muslim journalist Mohammed Zubair by Delhi Police should be interpreted as a prelude to genocide, given it takes place amongst a concerted effort by the authoritarian Modi regime and its radicalized Hindu nationalist supporters to silence journalists and activists who report anti-Muslim hate crimes.”
“Mohammed Zubair of @AltNews has been arrested. Giving hate speech is not a crime, but exposing hate speech is,” tweeted Kaushik Raj, journalist with The Wire.
2,200 Release Statement Supporting Human Rights Defender Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar After Arrest
As many as 2,200 writers, activists, former bureaucrats, and academics have released an open statement demanding the release of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad, who has long worked to bring justice to the victims of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat state. The statement also demanded the release of R.B. Sreekumar, a former Gujarat State Director-General of Police who was a key witness regarding PM Modi and law enforcement’s involvement in the Gujarat pogroms.
The signatories slammed the “naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalise” Setalvad and Sreekumar for seeking justice for the victims of brutal anti-Muslim slaughter.
“We demand that this false and vindictive FIR be taken back unconditionally and Teesta Setalvad and others detained under this FIR be released immediately,” the statement demanded.
The statement added, “[The arrests seek] to deter citizens from holding the state accountable for enabling violence in future and in effect conveys that the state can do no wrong. If you point out that the emperor has no clothes, you open yourself up to arrest and criminalisation.”
A metropolitan court has granted remand for both activists to the Ahmedabad crime branch for questioning till July 2. Their arrests came a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Setalvad along with Zakia Jafri, whose husband, parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, was slaughtered by a Hindu extremist mob during the 2002 pogroms. The petition sought to investigate the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in instigating and facilitating the anti-Muslim violence, who was then Gujarat’s Chief Minister.
Former Union Minister Slams Supreme Court Ruling That Modi Had No Involvement In 2002 Gujarat Pogroms
Jairam Ramesh, the Congress Party’s general secretary in-charge for communications and former Union Minister, has slammed the Supreme Court’s dismissal of a petition that challenged the report of a Special Investigation Team clearing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of any involvement in the 2002 Gujarat pogroms, during which an estimated 2000 people were killed. The majority of the victims were Muslim women, children, and men, who were brutally slaughtered at the hands of Hindu supremacist mobs.
The petition had been filed by Teesta Setalvad and Zakia Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, a politician and Congress Party member who was hacked to death by Hindu supremacists during the pogroms.
Saying that the party stands by Jafri and his family and calling the verdict “deeply disappointing,” Ramesh asked, “Will the chief minister, Cabinet and state government never be held accountable, even if a State is thrown into a circle of violence and riots?”
He further pointed out that current BJP leaders had previously criticized Modi’s unwillingness to defuse the violent situation in Gujarat.
“Why did sections of the BJP, including now-member of the Modi Cabinet Smriti Irani, protest and call for [Modi’s] dismissal as [Chief Minister] if he was not guilty of any wrongdoing?” he asked.