Following a complaint from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the Delhi Police cyber cell and the Raipur Police have lodged two FIRs against Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair along with two Twitter users in Delhi and Raipur “under sections of the IT Act and the POCSO Act” for allegedly “harassing and torturing” a minor girl on social media.
The two FIRs have been filed “under section 509B (sexual harassment by electronic mode) of the Indian Penal Code, section 12 (punishment for committing sexual harassment upon a child) of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and section 67 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.”
On August 6th, 2020, Zubair responded to an online abuse on Twitter wherein he wrote to a person named Jagdish Singh (@JSINGH2252), “Hello Jagdish Singh. Does your cute granddaughter know about your part-time job of abusing people on social media? I suggest you change your profile pic,” sharing Singh’s display picture with a little girl (blurring her face).
Two Twitter users who are named in the FIRs de_real_mask and syedsarwar20, along with Zubair had commented on this post.
On 8th August 2020, Forum for Indigenous Rights- North-East India made a complaint to NCPCR and after receiving the complaint, NCPCR wrote to the Delhi deputy commissioner of police and the nodal cyber cell officer to initiate action against Zubair.
Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson of NCPCR said that “Twitter representatives appeared before the Commission on Friday and they will provide relevant information in the matter within 10 days.”
Ajay Yadav, Raipur Superintendent of Police said prima facie there were some comments that could be classified as harassment. He added, “We have registered the FIR against the three Twitter handles but investigation work is still going on.”
On Sunday (September 6, 2020), Alt News released its statement, said, “An attempt is being made to hound co-founder of Alt News, Mohammed Zubair through misuse of legal apparatus. Alt News stands by Mohammed Zubair. Zubair has been at the forefront of fighting fake narratives, and his work hurts those who have weaponized misinformation to subvert Indian democracy.”
Zubair on this complaint said that he will be responding to it legally and said the complaint “absolutely frivolous”