By Our Editorial Team
First publised on 2022-06-29 10:28:00
The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair, co-founder of fact-checking website Alt News, is deplorable. The fact that he was arrested for tweeting an image from a film that had been certified for release by the censor board and had been screened without fuss many years ago should have been enough for not initiating any action against him. But when this is combined with the fact that Zubair tweeted the image in 2018 and since then there has been no enmity between communities or no riots as a result of the said tweet makes the arrest totally unwarranted. That is why the law which says that action can be initiated against anyone for anything if even one person complains that it hurts his or her religious sentiments must go.
In the instant case, Zubair was arrested just because a Twitter user going by the name 'Hanuman Bhakt' had complained that the tweet hurt his religious sentiments and could cause enmity between communities. But has the tweet caused any disturbance from 2018 till now? If not, then what was the need to arrest Zubair on a single complaint? If this continues, no one will be able to tweet anything as who knows when he or she could be hauled up for hurting someone's 'sensibilities'. A line has to be drawn somewhere but when an administration makes up its mind to 'punish' someone for not toeing the official line or being critical of government policies, he or she can be harassed in innumerable ways and digging up old tweets and getting someone to lodge a complaint against it has now become the preferred way.
But this will have the effect of crushing the freedom of the media, whatever little that is left of it. The government must recognize that not all its policies will be applauded by everyone. There always will be some criticism in the media. It has to learn to digest the bad with the good. Going after every critic smacks of vendetta and it does not befit the Central government of a democratic nation to do so.