Journalist Mohammed Zubair was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday evening based on a complaint by an anonymous Twitter handle that had posted only one message on the microblogging site until Monday evening and had only three followers.
In the first information report, Delhi Police said the case was based on a complaint on Twitter by a user with the handle @balajikijaiin who goes by the name of Hanuman Bhakt. The handle had taken objection to a tweet posted by Zubair in 2018, which showed an image of a hotel signboard repainted from “Honeymoon Hotel” to “Hanuman Hotel”.
Twitter users pointed out that the image is from a 1983 Hindi film, Kissi Se Na Kehna, a romantic comedy directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee.
The Delhi Police FIR states: “These words and the picture found to be used by Mohammed Zubair @zoo_bear against a particular religious community and are highly provocative and more than sufficient to incite feelings of hatred amongst people which can be detrimental for maintenance of public tranquility in society.”
Zubair, the co-founder of the fact-checking site Alt News, has been charged under Sections 153 (giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 295 (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code.
“Delhi Police has registered a case after getting a complaint from a Twitter handle, wherein it was alleged that Mohammed Zubair had tweeted a questionable image with a purpose to deliberately insult the god of a particular religion,” deputy commissioner of police KPS Malhotra told the Indian Express.
The tweet by @balajikijaiin addressed to the Delhi Police was posted on June 19. The handle had been created in October 2021 and until Monday evening had posted only one message – the one asking the Delhi Police to take action against Zubair.