Mohammad Zubair was charged for formatting the phone on his bail plea

Mohammad Zubair’s lawyer told the Delhi court that formatting his phone is not an illegal activity.

The co-founder of the fact-checking network Alt News, Mohammad Zubair has been allegedly found guilty of hurting religious sentiments by calling Mahant Bajrang Muni “Udasin,” Swami Anand Swarup, and Narsinghanand “hatemongers” on Twitter. An FIR was lodged against Mr. Zubair in Uttar Pradesh on the basis of a complaint by Bhagwan Sharan, the Sitapur unit chief of the Hindu Sher Sena.

According to the FIR, “This complaint is with regard to hurting our religious sentiments by using derogatory words against mahants of our dharam sthal, which is a symbol of our faith. On May 27, I saw on Twitter that Mohammad Zubair had used derogatory words like ‘hatemongers’ against Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena national custodian Bajrang Muni. Zubair had also disrespected Hindu Yati Narsinghanand and Swami Anand Swarup.” The complaint also states that Mr. Zubair is “inciting Muslims to murder Hindu leaders.”

Mr. Zubair was arrested over his four-year-old tweet and taken to police custody for the past five days. He has appealed for a bail plea in Delhi’s Patiala House Court today. But the police said that Mr. Zubair has been denied bail even when the court has not announced the decision yet. The police said that Mr. Zubair got donations from Pakistan and Syria and he tried to format his phone in an attempt to delete the evidence.

The police lawyer stated, “It’s not a case of time-barred. It is still a continuing offense as the tweet is still there.” They further said, “Donations are from Pakistan, Syria, so considering gravity, it’s not just a case of a simple tweet. He smartly deleted everything. Deletion of data from phone after FIR is important.” The police have also added that a criminal conspiracy has also been added to the FIR according to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

However, Mr. Zubair’s lawyer added to this argument that he was not aware of the FIR until his arrest on June 27 while the FIR was lodged on June 20. The lawyer said, “I (Zubair) was not aware of the FIR, and the phone was not summoned. It’s not illegal to format my phone. It is not arms and ammunition, or a drug. I take serious legal and constitutional objections.”