Srinagar: PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday said it was ironic that the Delhi Police arrested Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair on a day India joined G7 countries to commit to defending democratic principles and protecting the freedom of expression.
“It is a strange thing that on one hand our government signs the pledge with G7 countries to protect freedom of expression and on the same day, Zubair is arrested,” she said.
She said Zubair had brought truth to people but today he is being hounded for posting a scene from a Bollywood movie.
Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through one of his tweets posted in 2018. His arrest came days after the Gujarat authorities arrested Teesta Setalvad on the charges of “criminal conspiracy, forgery and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people” in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Mehbooba criticised the arrests and said, “It is the worst day for democracy in the country.”
The former chief minister alleged that Setalvad was being targeted for fighting for the rights of the oppressed.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also took a swipe at the decision to arrest Zubair.
Abdullah posted the screenshots of two tweets — one for which Zubair was arrested and the other by now-sacked BJP leader Naveen Kumar Jindal.
“Only one of these tweets will get you arrested for hurting religious sentiments & no prizes for guessing which one. There isn’t even the pretence of equality under law any longer,” the National Conference vice president said.
CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami said the Narendra Modi-led BJP government was using strongarm tactics to muzzle the voice of those who “expose its false propaganda and hate speech”.
“It is very unfortunate that journalists like Zubair, who highlight the truth and hold mirror to the government, are being witch-hunted and booked under flimsy charges while the hate-mongers are roaming freely,” Tarigami said.
He alleged that the central government was “peddling lies and misinformation” only to hide “its failure on a host of counts”, political and economic.
“CPI(M) demands the immediate release of Zubair,” he said.
In a statement issued on Monday, leaders of the G7 grouping and its five partner countries, including India, committed to open public debate, independent and pluralistic media and the free flow of information online and offline, while guarding the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors.
The leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said they are prepared to defend these principles and are resolved to protect the freedom of expression. PTI