Mohammed Zubair of AltNews Hounded by Frivolous FIR under POCSO

The NCPCR, under a person with a history of support for the RSS, is paying undue attention to the complaint in order to discredit Zubair and target him for his critical work in fighting against RSS-BJP propaganda.

Mohammed Zubair

Two FIRs have been filed against Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of AltNews under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act under questionable charges. 

Mohammed Zubair had, on August 6, replied to a tweet by @JSINGH2252, fact-checking the source of a video he had posted. @JSINGH2252 then replied with abusive language. In response, Zubair posted a picture of the user with a child who was presumably his girlfriend, which was his profile picture. Mohammed Zubair blurred out the face of the girl, and wrote, “Hello Jagdish Singh. Does your cute granddaughter know about your part-time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you to change your profile pic.” The identity of the child was protected and no abusive language was used, the picture was public as it was the profile picture selected by @JSINGH2252. 

An account named ‘Forum for Indigenous Rights- North-East India’ filed a complaint with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The organisation by this name does not have any online record of its activities nor any official website. There is also no information available online about its members or office bearers. The twitter account for this organisation was opened in November 2019. The first activity on the account was a retweet of a post which said, “IAS officer comitting treason to our nation offering citizenship to rohinya refugees in Hyderabad @AmitShah”. Since then, the account has been filing complaints, especially against various Muslims, accusing them of ‘love jihad’ and so on. 

More recently, they retweeted the following tweet. 

Who forms the membership of this organisation and what are their credentials on the basis of which they have named themselves ‘Forum for Indigenous Rights’ is unclear.

The complaint by the organization was then taken up by the NCPCR, which wrote to the Delhi deputy commissioner of police and the nodal cyber cell officer, seeking action against Zubair for “stalking” a minor girl on Twitter, according to a report on Scroll.in.  

The Chairperson of the NCPCR, Priyank Kanoongo, who filed the complaint, has in the past been associated with the BJP-RSS, according to a report on the Times of India. Recently, in a letter to the District Magistrate of South-East Delhi, he had asked the DM to “identify” children seen opposing the CAA and NRC at Shaheeh Bagh and call them in for counselling. Under him, the NCPCR also refused to investigate into child rights abuses in police custody during the massive violence against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh in the midst of the anti-CAA-NRC movement. 

Pratik Sinha, co-founder of AltNews, later revealed that @JSINGH2252, had earlier posted various sexually abusive tweets about various women, including photoshopping their faces on pornographic images and posting sexual coloured remarks along with the images of women, including that of Shehla Rashid. 

The NCPCR has not yet responded to this. @JSINGH2252 has now changed his account status to private. 

AltNews has released a statement pointing out that this is an attempt to hound Zubair for his work in fighting the fake narratives of the BJP, and that this is a misuse of legal apparatus. 

Zubair has said that he will be responding to this legally. 

It is clear that the complaint has been made by questionable individuals and organizations, and that the NCPCR, under a person with a history of support for the RSS, is paying undue attention to the complaint in order to discredit Zubair and target him for his critical work in fighting against RSS-BJP propaganda. The legal protections from sexual assault, harassment, and pornography for children under the POCSO are extremely important, and such clear misuse of the law is extremely questionable on the part of the chairperson of the NCPCR.

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