The Delhi Police on Wednesday wrote to multiple banks seeking information about bank account details and other financial transactions of fact-checking website Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair who is under police custody over an "objectionable" tweet, officials said. Zubair was arrested on Monday for allegedly hurting religious sentiments after posting the tweet against a Hindu deity in 2018.
"We are currently focusing on the source of donation and other financial transactions made into the bank accounts associated with Alt News. We have evidence that in the last three months, a transaction amounting to Rs 50 lakh was made into one of the accounts. We are further analyzing the transactions made from multiple bank accounts," a senior police officer said. He said Zubair will be taken to Bengaluru on Thursday in connection with the probe.
"Our team will take Zubair to Bengaluru tomorrow to seize the devices, including the mobile phone and laptop, that might have been used to post the tweet in question, and also collect other evidence linked to the case," the officer said. Police had said that the objectionable tweet "led to a Twitter storm with hate speeches which were detrimental to communal harmony". The officer also said that the mobile phone used by the journalist at present has been formatted and does not have information related to the case.
According to police, Zubair, when asked about the phone he used when he allegedly posted the tweet in question, said he had lost it. Meanwhile, the anonymous Twitter handle, a complaint that led to Zubair's arrest, does not exist on the microblogging website anymore, sources in the Delhi Police said. A Delhi court had on Tuesday extended by four days the custodial interrogation of Zubair.
During the hearing, Zubair's counsel said that the photo which he had used in the tweet was from a 1983 film by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, “Kissi Se Na Kehna”, and that the film was not banned. The court, however, rejected the submission, saying it was of no assistance to the accused at this stage. The Delhi Police had also told the court that Zubair allegedly “used controversial tweets to hurt religious feelings in an effort to get fame".
On June 20, a case against Zubair was registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language, etc.) and 295A (deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the DCP said. However, he was arrested in connection with one of his tweets posted in the year 2018 that had a questionable image with the purpose of deliberately insulting the god of a particular religion, he said.