How are religious sentiments hurt when blatant hate speech is exposed by a journalist?

Uttar Pradesh Police booked Mohammed Zubair for a tweet, calling Yati Narasinghanand, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swaroop 'hatemongers’


“This is 5th or may be 6th FIR against me,” tweeted Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair after news broke that a first information report had been filed against him in Uttar Pradesh.



He has been accused of allegedly “hurting religious sentiments” for calling Yati Narsinghanand, Bajrang Muni and Anand Swarup “hatemongers” in one of his tweets. He has been charged under Indian Penal Code Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), and Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act by the Khairabad police in Sitapur district, stated news reports.

As soon as the factchcker-journalist, who is a Muslim, had been targeted, Bajrang Muni, now out on bail, put out a video statement in a threatening tone, saying, “It is my open challenge to Mohammed Zubair to try and use ‘offensive’ words against any ‘saint’.” He says Hindu ‘seculars’ are “allowed to insult me” as that is seen as a family quarrel, “no Junaid, Zubair, Suhel has that right”. 



Bajrang Muni is a priest of the Badi Sangat Ashram, Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, and had threatened Muslim women with mass rape on April 2, notably in the presence of the local police, on the occasion of the Hindu new year. He got bail within 10 days of being arrested! Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had been apprehensive that adequate legal action would not be taken against Das, as the charges against him were just a mild rap on the wrist. The CJP team had filed a complaint with the Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, that charges be added and the investigation be non-partisan. Key sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) like Sections 153, 153A, 153B, 295A, 354A, 503, 504 and 505 were not applied to the hate offender. Besides Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 were missing in the police registered FIR. 

When posting his latest video, Bajrang Muni added a “thank you sir” to the state’s DG Police as well as Chief Minister Adityanath. 

According to news reports, Pratik Sinha, Alt News website’s editor-in-chief has said, “Three concerned individuals have been called hatemongers by several media organisations,” and that, “The work that Alt News does against hate speech and misinformation bothers a lot of people.”

The FIR against Zubair was registered at a police station in Khairabad based on the complaint of one Bhagwan Sharan. According to news reports, he identifies himself as the district head of Rashtriya Hindu Sher Sena. According to a report in Indian Express, the complainant stated his religious sentiments were hurt by Zubair’s tweet, which referred to his “Honourable Mahant Bajarang Muni as hatemonger”. He added that Zubair was inciting Muslims to “murder” Hindu leaders. 

On May 27, Zubair, had tweeted how prime time debates on Indian news television channels “have become a platform to encourage hate mongers to speak ill about other religions,” and shared a clip of a debate moderated by its anchor Navika Kumar.




He has also been the target of massive online abuse and threats.




However, scores of publications, and perhaps too many to count social media users, have regularly reported on, and posted about words of hate, calls to violence, especialy  anti-Muslim, anti-woman hate speeches made by Hindutva mascots. Action taken in those cases is lukewarm at best.



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