AltNews founders Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha are on the list of ‘favourites’ to win the Nobel Peace Prize in a list compiled by Times Magazine.
Zubair and Sinha launched the fact-checking website in 2017 and have been “relentlessly been battling misinformation in India, where the Hindu nationalist BJP party has been accused of frequently stoking discrimination against Muslims,” according to the Times piece.
It further notes that the two have worked to “methodologically debunked rumors and fake news circulating on social media and called out hate speech.”
Zubair was arrested back in June earlier this year for a meme he had put up on Twitter, four years ago. The meme was in response to controversial statements about Islam and Prophet Muhammed made by Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nupur Sharma. The journalist’s arrest sparked intense backlash from the journalist community both in the country and outside. Critics accused the government of using the police to stifle those who spoke out against it.
“It is apparent that AltNews’ alert vigilance was resented by those who use disinformation as a tool to polarize the society and rake nationalist sentiments,” the Editors Guild of India wrote in a June 28 statement.
Zubair was released on interim bail on July 20 in all the FIR charges against him, by the Supreme Court. It further stated that it would not ban him from tweeting and that the using the power of arrest must be used “sparingly”.
Sinha and Zubair joined forces and created AltNews in 2017 after the former developed an interest in fake news back in 2013. They finally decided to work on a website in 2016 after four Dalit boys were flogged for skinning a dead cow in Gujarat.