On June 7, Alt News cofounder Mohammed Zubair posted the following on Twitter, after the social media platform sent him multiple emails about requests it had received from the police on Zubair’s tweets “violating” the law.
This was not new. Since 2020, five FIRs had been filed against Zubair, with charges under the POCSO Act, the IT Act, and the penal code. Twenty days after this tweet, the sixth FIR was filed, ostensibly because of an investigation into a he’d posted four years ago.
Zubair was arrested and charged with promoting enmity and disturbing religious harmony. He is presently in police custody. In the , the case against him has “serious implications as far as religious fabric is concerned”.
Yet Zubair himself has been calling out hate speech and misinformation on social media for the last five years. Most recently, he had of Nupur Sharma’s infamous comments against the Prophet that spiralled into a diplomatic row for India.
On occasion, authorities have taken action on the basis of his tweets (see and ). Here’s a look at five cases where he has pointed at direct threats of violence against minorities and the action authorities took in these cases.
Here are five instances of this.
1. ‘We will fight, die and, if needed, kill for this Hindu rashtra’
On December 28 last year, Zubair of school children in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district taking a pledge to “kill, die or fight” for a Hindu rashtra. The clip was broadcast on Sudarshan News and by its editor in chief Suresh Chavhanke.
The that Sudarshan’s team “tricked” the children into taking the pledge. In his tweet, Zubair tagged multiple handles, including the National Commission on Protection of Child Rights and its chairperson Priyank Kangoo, women and child development minister Smriti Irani, and the National Commission for Women and its chairperson Rekha Sharma. “Wake up! Speak up!” he tweeted.
The Sonbhadra police that the inspector in charge would be informed. The Wire reported in January this year that an “attempt was made, unsuccessfully, to file an FIR in Delhi”. Newslaundry was unable to get a response from the police station.
2. Muslims are ‘pigs, boars’, Kejriwal should be ‘shot’
Suresh Rajput is a disciple of Yati Narsinghanand and a hate speech propagator. In his videos on YouTube, he’s described Asaduddin Owasi as a “pig, threatened to “shoot” Arvind Kejriwal, called Muslims “terrorists” and “boars”, asked his followers to assault Virat Kohli for wearing a skullcap, and led a rally against love jihad where he shouted slogans like “shoot the Muslims”.
On November 27 last year, Zubair an on Rajput’s hate speech.
Rajput’s YouTube channel, “Hindu Sher Boy” which had over a million views, was blocked in mid-2021. By November, Rajput had created another YouTube channel, also titled “Hindu Sher Boy”, which was taken down when Alt News reported it. In January this year, he started a channel called “Suresh Rajput” – its subscriber count is hidden but its videos have thousands of views.
Meanwhile Rajput’s Facebook account is . On Tuesday, a day after Zubair’s arrest, he on YouTube saying “Muslims have lost, Nupur Sharma has won”. The video has 3,000 views so far.
3. ‘Islamic scholar’ platformed by news channels
Three days after Nupur Sharma’s comments against the Prophet on Times Now, Zee News on the “Shivling” found at the Gyanvapi mosque. The debate was attended by Ilyas Sharafuddin, a self-proclaimed Islamic scholar and a frequent face on news debates.
During the debate, Sharafuddin mocked Hinduism, saying, “Why do you worship private parts?”
It’s not the first time he’s made inflammatory comments. The “scholar” has been around since 2017, and had an FIR in early June for hurting religious sentiments. In December, he supported death threats against Jitendra Narayan Singh Tyagi, previously known as Wasim Rizvi, for criticising Islam. Sharafuddin that “Modiji must behead Rizvi himself”. Days before, , he had also called for the beheading of Tyagi and Yati Narsinghanand: “First behead them, only then there will be peace in India.”
Zubair from the Zee News debate, and pointed out the various news channels platforming Sharafuddin.
Nevertheless, Sharafuddin in news debates.
4. ‘Brought down Babri, will bring down Taj Mahal as well’
Our next character is also a disciple of Yati Narsinghanand. In December 2019, during the citizenship law protests in India, a man named Sandeep Acharya released a on YouTube. Titled Bill Phada Owaisi Ne Magar Sach Hai Ye Fhata Kuch aur Hai, its lyrics include: “Rohingya and Bangladeshis will be out of the country...And the opponents who are barking will not be able to do anything.”
The song is part of an album, Rohingya Aur Bangladeshi Desh Se Bahar Jayenge, released by Mayur Music.
Zubair about it on February 4 this year.
But the song is still up. Mayur Music’s YouTube channel continues to release content. In March, it – described as “ best of Sandeep Acharya” – titled Kattar Hinduwadi Song 2022 with lyrics like, “We brought down Babri, we will bring down Taj Mahal as well.” In April, urged Hindus to “wake up”. in May – titled Gyanvapi Masjid Mandir Ban Jayegi – said Hindus had “woken up” and the Gyanvapi mosque would “once again become a temple”.
5. ‘Raise slogans to tear apart womb of anti-national woman’
On June 1, Zubair of self-proclaimed seer Jitender Saraswati urging people to “raise slogans in such a way that it tears apart the womb of an anti-national woman bearing an anti-national baby”.
This “seer” has a pattern of saying hateful things. On March 23, Zubair had tweeted of Jitender standing in a movie hall after watching The Kashmir Files. In the video, he said, “Jihadis will eat up the country if we don’t wake up.” Brandishing a trishul, he :“Some Salman will become Suresh, some Rehman will become Ramesh, and then they trap our women in love jihad.”
Jitender Saraswati’s YouTube channel is still going strong, with over 99,000 subscribers and 246 videos, most of which contain hate speech against Muslims. He hosted a a day after Zubair’s arrest where he assured viewers that “ghar wapsi”, or conversion back to Hinduism, would happen on a large scale.
“Your mothers, fathers, Salmas and Ruksanas are all going to come back,” he said.
On the recent in Rajasthan, he said, “This is a war siren. Hindus, you must accept this jihadi war siren...We need to now go house to house and wake up our Hindus and make sure these anti-nationals are kicked out of the country.”
The YouTube live was also attended by a man wearing a police uniform.
Taif Altaf contributed research to this report.
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