Harassment of HR defenders now alarmingly commonplace in India: AI


New Delhi, June 29 (KMS): Amnesty International India deploring that harassment and arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders for tirelessly seeking truth and justice have become alarmingly commonplace in India has demanded immediate and unconditional release of noted journalist and rights activist, Mohammed Zubair.

Mohammad Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News was arrested by the Delhi Police on Monday night for his social media post.

Aakar Patel, chair of board for Amnesty International India, in a statement said the Indian authorities are targeting Zubair for his crucial work to combat the rise in fake news and disinformation and call out discrimination against minorities. He said, the arrest of Mohammed Zubair shows the danger facing human rights defenders in India has reached a crisis point.

“The fact that he was not provided a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) and was detained incommunicado during the initial hours following his arrest shows just how brazen the Indian authorities have become,” Aakar Patel said.

“Harassment, intimidation, unlawful and arbitrary arrests, and imprisonment of human rights defenders for tirelessly seeking truth and justice have become alarmingly commonplace in India,” he added.

Calling on the Delhi Police to immediately and unconditionally release Zubair and end its “relentless harassment” of journalists, human rights defenders and activists, Aakar Patel said the Alt News co-founder’s arrest is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression, abuse of power by the authorities and sends a message that dissent is not tolerated in the country.

Alt News co-founder Pratik Sinha alleged that the police did not serve any prior notice to Zubair, even though it is mandatory for the sections under which he has been arrested.