The Delhi Police Special Cell has informed the Delhi High Court that the Twitter post made by AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair containing picture and words allegedly against a particular religious community was deliberate and “highly provocative”, enough to incite feelings of hatred among people, “detrimental for maintenance of public tranquillity in the society”.
The Special Cell, which was directed to file a status report by the Delhi High Court, said during the investigation, it was revealed that the said post, which was objected to by a Twitter user, was made from Zubair’s verified handle. “That, on 27.06.2022, Mohammed Zubair joined investigation of above case and admitted that he had posted the above mentioned post related to Hanuman-Honeymoon hotel.
But despite detailed interrogation, Mohd. Zubair tried to mislead investigation and provided different answers to same question on repeated queries. Finally, Mohd. Zubair disclosed that the laptop and mobile phone used by him for posting the above content is at his residence in Bangalore and he can get the same recovered,” the report states.
The Special Cell further alleged that Zubair had remained non-cooperative during the investigation. According to the report, Zubair also disclosed that he had asked his family to “dispose off [sic] his equipment, including his mobile phone and laptop, in case he is arrested/ apprehended by police”.
The police said Zubair was arrested on June 27 to recover the laptop and mobile phone used in committing this crime and to interrogate him and to “find out other tweets/posts and larger part of the conspiracy, if any”.
According to the police, Zubair disclosed that he is a co-founder of Alt News and to gain popularity, he posts content “that triggers religious sentiment and he remains trending in news/ social media”. The police alleged Zubair gave evasive answers and on sustained interrogation, revealed that the laptop/mobile used for tweeting the alleged post is kept at his residence.
The Special Cell said during the police custody remand, one laptop, two invoices and one hard disk have been recovered from the Bangalore residence of Zubair based on “disclosure statements which are admissible under Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, which are to be looked upon at the time of trial” and that the “quashing/ setting aside” of the police custody order made by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), Patiala House Court, will make the “recovery inadmissible”.
The CMM on June 28 granted the special cell four-day police custody remand pursuant to which Zubair was taken into custody. Zubair was thereafter remanded to 14-day judicial custody by the CMM on July 2 and on July 15 Additional Sessions Judge Devender Jangala, Patiala House Court, granted him regular bail.
According to the report, the “peripherals seized during the police custody remand” have been deposited at the forensic science laboratory, Rohini, Delhi. Data is to be recovered from these devices and is to be analysed with respect to the tweet in question and other similar tweets made by Zubair if retrieved, the police stated.
On September 15, when the matter was called, Zubair’s counsel was granted four weeks time by a single judge bench of Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav to file a rejoinder and listed the matter on October 31.
On July 20, the Supreme Court disbanded the special investigation team formed by Uttar Pradesh for cases pending against Zubair and granted him interim bail in six cases filed against him in the state for allegedly hurting religious sentiments with Twitter posts. It also transferred the pending cases against him to Delhi.