The bail plea of Alt News co-founder and journalist Mohammed Zubair was rejected by a Lakhimpur Kheri court in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday in a case registered against him in September for fact-checking a report carried by the television channel Sudarshan News about the Israel-Palestine dispute, reported ANI.
“Hearing on police custody remand will be held on July 20,” Zubair’s lawyer Harjit Singh told ANI.
The journalist was on Monday sent to judicial custody for 14 days by the Lakhimpur Kheri court.
The complaint in the Lakhimpur Kheri case was filed by Ashish Kumar Katiyar, a journalist working with Sudarshan News. The police registered a first information report on September 18, 2021, after Katiyar approached a local court seeking directions for the same.
Notably, the court had summoned Zubair shortly after he was granted temporary bail on July 8 in another case against him in the state for calling three Hindutva supremacists “hatemongers” in a tweet.
According to the first information report, Katiyar claimed that on May 14, 2021, in connivance with Twitter, Zubair had spread rumours against Sudarshan TV based on “false graphics”. The FIR did not reproduce the contents of the tweet or mention its URL – uniform resource locator.
The tweet in contention was, however, posted on May 16, 2021, as Sudarshan News showed in a broadcast to defend itself.
In the tweet, Zubair had pointed out that Sudarshan News had superimposed a fabricated image of the Al Masjid An Nabawi mosque in Medina on a picture of the Gaza strip to falsely portray that the mosque was being destroyed in an Israeli rocket attack.
The action against the co-founder of the fact-checking website was taken despite an FIR being filed against Sudarshan News on May 18 last year by Muslim organisation Raza Academy for using the doctored image in their broadcast.
On May 20, the channel defended itself claiming that the doctored image was an example of “artistic freedom”. Notably, in 2020, the Supreme Court had said that Sudarshan News Editor-in-Chief Suresh Chavhanke was doing a “disservice to the nation” by airing a show that claimed to unveil an alleged conspiracy behind how Muslims have infiltrated the civil services.
In his complaint, Katiyar also alleged that Zubair had made an appeal to Muslims all over the world to create unrest and disrupt peace in India to create a “war-like situation”.
“However some Twitter users responded to accused no 1 [Zubair], following which he again made posts on May 15 to spread poison against the country,” the complainant alleged. The FIR did not specify the tweets in which Zubair had allegedly made such statements.