Now, a new hate campaign against Zubair with wild claims about his time in jail

The campaign was started by the president of the Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena.

WrittenBy:Prateek Goyal
Zubair with a screenshot of Vikas Chaturvedi’s viral video in the background.

Social media isn’t really the place to parse fact from fiction. And sections of social media users – many who purchased the “blue tick” on X – are doing their best to populate websites with wild theories.

The latest is against Alt News fact-checker Mohammed Zubair, who’s constantly in the rightwing’s crossfire. This time, a video claims he “sexually abused” co-inmates when he was imprisoned at Sitapur jail. After it was widely shared online, Zubair trended on X, formerly Twitter, for three days.

The man behind the video is the president of the Hindutva group called the Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena that filed a police complaint against Zubair in June 2022. His name is Vikas Chaturvedi and he’s built a reputation for himself for sharing fake news online. The complaint against Zubair last year was for referring to Yati Narasinghanand, Bajrang Muni (who is national custodian of the Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena) and Anand Swaroop as “hate-mongers”.

When Newslaundry asked Zubair about the new wave of misinformation against him, he said, “These are the same people who have been targeting me. The same person released a video in 2022 in which he said he’d called to burn my effigy. They regularly target me through their social media channels.”

This video was posted soon after Zubair tweeted about his experiences in jail last week.

“The people sharing this video are aware it’s manufactured,” Zubair added. “But they still share it. Maybe they want to troll me. However, I have now become used to these kinds of campaigns.”

Chaturvedi, who also goes by “Vikas Hindu”, posted the video on Facebook on November 18, writing that Zubair only showed “half the truth” of his jail experience. 

The video shows Chaturvedi in conversation with a man, whose face is covered. Chaturvedi says he won’t reveal the man’s identity “or else he will be killed” because “Mohammad Zubair is a dangerous man”. The man then makes wild allegations including that Zubair “tried to have sex with him” in jail.

Unsurprisingly, it was widely shared on X by the usual rightwing suspects, all of whom have built names for themselves for posting misinformation. This included self-proclaimed tech billionaire Arun Pudur and TV news panellist Syed Rizwan Ahmed. 

It was also tweeted by a handle followed by union minister Piyush Goyal, a handle that was once suspended for harassing AAP spokesperson Preeti Menon, and a third that has a blue tick.

Collectively, the tweets from these five handles were shared over 4,000 times. The five handles also have a total of about 6.25 lakh followers.

Chaturvedi, whose organisation crusades against bogus issues like “love jihad” and “land jihad”, told Newslaundry he’d been in touch with this purported co-inmate “for the last two or three months” but he only met him “last week”.

“He informed me about the acts of Zubair. I thought this act of Zubair should be known to the public. That’s why I posted the video,” he said.

Isn’t it a defamatory video without any evidence? Chaturvedi said, “We have made a video with the living person who is saying all these things.If Zubair can tweet about his experience in jail, then this person also has told us about his experience with Zubair in jail.”

Newslaundry asked if Chaturvedi could arrange a conversation between this reporter and the supposed co-inmate. Chaturvedi said, “I don’t have his phone number and address but I have called him to meet me again. I have asked that person to file a legal complaint so that police can investigate the matter. I can’t say whether that person is right or wrong. But the way he is saying that on camera, I think he is telling the truth.”

Zubair told Newslaundry that as of now, he does not plan to pursue legal action over the video.

Also see
article imageNL Interview with Zubair: ‘They said India is so poor, why would anyone donate to you for fact-checking?’
article image‘Dissent is necessary’: Five takeaways from Delhi court’s bail order for Zubair

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