Kolkata: Every Indian or maybe Non-Resident Indians knows how impactful Ravish Kumar’s journalism is among the masses. Especially after 2014, when most of the Indian media in general and Hindi news channels, in particular, have fallen in line with the ruling party in the world’s largest democracy, Ravish continued with his speaking truth to those in power. While Ravish has a journalistic career spanning over two decades, in the past five years, onother person who has done similar impactful work in India is Mohammed Zubair.
The Alt News co-founder work has made the same impact through Twitter as that NDTV’s Executive Editor on the a Hindi news channel. While Ravish reaches out the Indian masses, Zubair’s work has a global appeal.
Ravish has been trolled and abused by right-wingers. A propaganda website OpIndia has done hundreds of stories on Ravish. But the senior journalist only went on to win several awards for his exemplary brand of journalism, including the prestigious Magsaysay award. The hope for journalists like Ravish being behind bars, remain a distant dream for right-wing supporters.
Ravish has called the fact-checker many times on his show.
But when Zubair continued with his stellar work by exposing people behind Sulli Deals, Bulli Bai Deals and highlighted hate speeches during Haridwar Dharam Sansad as well as Nupur Sharma case, it not only shook those propagating hate and fake news, right-wing supporters, and leaders but exposed them globally.
Because of Zubair’s documentation of hate speeches, several international media organizations have been able to write on the Genocide-like situation in India. Zubair’s extraordinary work of busting fake news and highlighting hate speeches in recent times eventually led to the arrest.
It is also a reality that journalists who are associated with independent media in India are more vulnerable than their counterparts in mainstream media.
When I met Zubair in October last year. He told me that before coming to Kolkata, he had appeared in a court case. Till that time, the fact-checker was facing a ‘functional’ legal system, so he was outside.
On June 27, Zubair was arrested on flimsy ground. Till now, it is already in the public domain how fabricated the case is. The tweet which led to arrest of Zubair was from a movie scene and the handle was deactivated for some days.
he Wire during its investigation uncovered the existence of a network of 757 Twitter habdles that were used to launch a coordinated attack on Alt News. It mentioned that anonymous complainants targeting Zubair’s Tweet linked to Tek Fog App, of a BJYM leader in Gujarat.
Since Zubair got arrested, just two days after the arrest of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad. Their arrest has led to widespread outrage across India and among the diaspora, globally. Even the spokesperson of Secretary-General, United Nations commented against the arrests but it did not change anything for Zubair as far as his bail was concerned.
After being in police custody for five days on Saturday, he was sent to judicial custody for 14 days.
And now there remains no doubt about the Enforcement Directorate investigating the case. A few media outlets are already speculating the same.
The sequence confirm that he is being harassed for his work and that the funding of Alt News will also be probed, for exposing fake news and documenting hate speeches, which often has a direct connection with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and the organization itself.