My faith, my name is the only difference: Alt News' Mohammed Zubair tells court
Zubair had reportedly shared an image from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's classic 'Kissi Se Na Kehna'
Zubair's lawyer rubbished the police's claim that he had edited the image
The Delhi Police reportedly said he is a fact-checker "only for popularity"
Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair's lawyer on Tuesday told a Delhi court that he has been arrested for a tweet from 2018 even when it is a screenshot from a 1983 movie cleared by the censor board.
"Many have tweeted the same, the only difference between those handles and mine is my faith, my name and my profession," lawyer Vrinda Grover said, referring to Zubair being a Muslim and a journalist.
Also read: Who is Mohammed Zubair?
In a tweet from March 2018, Zubair had reportedly shared an image from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's classic 'Kissi Se Na Kehna'. The tweet reportedly shows a hotel signboard that reads 'Hanuman Hotel' in Hindi. However, the paint marks suggest it was earlier called 'Honeymoon Hotel'.
Zubair wrote with the image, "Before 2014: Honeymoon Hotel, After 2014: Hanuman Hotel", in what appeared to be a dig at the BJP coming to power in 2014.
Zubair's lawyer rubbished the police's claim that he had edited the image, and said there was no basis to charges of hurting religious sentiments or promoting enmity. "This is not a place of worship. It is a joke on honeymooners... The entire case borders on absurdity."
Arguing for bail, she said the police are abusing their power. "What has happened between 2018-2022 because of this tweet?... My client is being targeted for his work. He may be challenging people who are powerful but that can't be a reason for his harassment," she told the court.
However, the Delhi Police reportedly said he is a fact-checker "only for popularity".
The Delhi police has sought five days of custody, citing other FIRs registered against him.
"This is a continuing offence," the police's lawyer argued, referring to a tweet in which the Alt News co-founder had written, "Pray to Hanuman, monkeys will not disturb you."
But his lawyer said Zubair was merely reiterating a statement by a chief minister (Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh).
On Monday evening, the Delhi police arrested Zubair, days after he flagged a video of since-suspended BJP leader Nupur Sharma's provocative remarks against Prophet Mohammed on a TV show. A duty magistrate gave the police a day's custody last night.
Founded in 2017 as a non-profit, Alt News is among the world's most prominent fact-checking outlets. Its founders have been facing online trolling and police cases, particularly by right-wing groups, for years.