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Indian police investigate 2 journalists over critical social media posts

Indian police investigate 2 journalists over critical social media posts

New York, June 16, 2022 – Indian police must immediately drop investigations into journalists Saba Naqvi and Mohammed Zubair in response to their social media posts critical of right-wing Hindu politics and activists, and allow all members of the press to work freely, the Committee said. to protect journalists said Thursday.

On June 3, police in Sitapur district in northern Uttar Pradesh state opened an investigation into Zubair, co-founder of the fact-checking website. New Alternativesafter he tweeted that three right-wing Hindu activists were “hatemongers”, according to new reports.

On June 8, police in the capital New Delhi opened an investigation into Naqvi, a freelance journalist, after she shared a satirical meme on her Twitter account about a recent claim that a revered symbol linked to the Hindu god Shiva had was found in a mosque. in the northern city of Varanasi, according to various new reports. The meme was shared by various Twitter usersincluding an deputyand republished by the Financial newspaper Economic period. However, only Naqvi, who is Muslim and known for her criticism of right-wing Hindu politics, was named in the survey.

This is the second connected social network investigation in Naqvi, and the fifth in Zubair, according to these reports. Both journalists use social media in the course of their work, according to CPJ’s review of their social media accounts.

“Indian police must stop targeting journalists critical of sectarian politics,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia Program Coordinator, in Washington, DC. “Selective investigations of Mohammed Zubair and Saba Naqvi strongly suggest they are being targeted unacceptable because of their Muslim affiliation, religious identity and work as journalists.

Police are investigating Zubair under Section 295(a) of the Penal Code for “wilful and malicious acts” intended to cause religious outrage and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act for ” publication or transmission of obscene material,” according to those reports. He faces three years in prison under Section 295(a) and an additional three years and a fine of 500,000 rupees ($6,400) under Section 67according to the law.

According to this information, Bhagwan Sharan, who introduced himself as the district head of the far-right Hindu group Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena, filed a complaint against Zubair. On June 13, the High Court in Allahabad rejected Zubair’s request to end the investigation, according to the independent news site. Zubair did not respond to CPJ’s text message seeking comment.

Police are investigating Naqvi for violating the penal code under Article 153 for ‘promoting enmity’ between groups, Article 295 and Article 505 for inciting others to commit offenses against the state or “public peace”, according to these sources. She faces six months in prison under Section 153two years’ imprisonment under section 295 and five years’ imprisonment under Section 505, according to the law. Each section also has an undeclared fine.

The lawsuit against Naqvi was filed by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operation Unit of the Delhi Police Special Cell for ‘inciting various groups and creating situations detrimental to the maintenance of public tranquility in the country’, according to the outlet. independent. India today.

“I was shocked,” Naqvi told CPJ via text message. “[This investigation has] implications for freedom of expression in India, suggesting that there may be a filtering to target certain journalists.

New Delhi police spokesperson Suman Nalwa and Uttar Pradesh police did not immediately respond to CPJ’s text and email requesting comment.