NEW DELHI: A day after Alt News co-founder Mohammad Zubair, who is facing investigation into a 2018 tweet on Lord Hanuman for allegedly fanning sentiments in India, approached the Delhi high court, the Delhi Police have pressed fresh charges of criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence against him.
The charges have been pressed under the Foreign Contribution Act (FCA), 2010, a law to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution or foreign hospitality by certain individuals or associations. He is being probed by the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit of Delhi Police led by its chief and DANIS-cadre IPS KPS Malhotra.
IFSO unit officials also said that Zubair had deleted the data in his mobile data or was using different mobile phone to circumvent the probe.
“Further, apparently the mobile phone carried by accused Mohammad Zubair had no data and had removed the data or had brought an altogether different/less used mobile phone. He had clear intention of hiding the information or his associate’s details.Through CDR analysis, it was observed that prior to June 25, he was using a Redmi Note 8 mobile phone and on June 25, he had changed the mobile handset. This was done by him deliberately, as on June 24, he had received the notice for joining the investigation in Case FIR no. 194/2020 by Insp. Vijay Kumar. He had deliberately hidden/destroyed the previously used mobile phone” said Delhi Police.
“The receipt of donation by the persons mentioning foreign mobile phone numbers and having foreign cities IP addresses is suspicious and doubtful to be the donation/funds from foreign sources and attracts the provisions of FCR Act, 2010. Prima facies offence u/s 35 FCR Act is attracted and the same has been added in the case,” a Delhi Police official told the New Indian.
Officials said that police investigation is based on the analysis of the reply received from Razorpay Payment gateway into the account of Zubair and Alt-News, a portal that refers to itself as a fact-checking website. The fresh development comes two days after office of the Registrar of Companies (RoC) in Ahmedabad issued a notice to Pravda Media Foundation that operates Alt News, for alleged violations of several provisions of the Companies Act, 2013.
“It is revealed there are various transactions, in which the either the mobile phone number is of outside India or the IP address is of foreign countries and cities including Bangkok, Western, Australia, Manama, North Holland, Singapore, Victoria, New York, England, Riyadh Region, Sharjah, Stockholm, Central and Western, Eastern Province, Abu Dhabi, Washington, Kansas, New Jersey, Ontario, ,California, Texas, Lower Saxony, Bern, Dubai, , Scotland and a total of about Rs 2.31 lakh have been received by the Pravda Media,” the officials said. Other high money transactions are also being ascertained besides the antecedents of suspicious individuals involved in these transactions.
“During the social media analysis, it was noticed that the Twitter handles which had supported the accused (Zubair) and had tweeted in support of Mohammad Zubair after his arrest, were mostly from Middle Eastern countries like UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and countries like Pakistan” the officials added.
“Thus, section 201 IPC also has been added in the present case along with section 120B as the foreign funds are being received by the firm and he alone is not director in the firm. The factum of the receiving of the funds would be in knowledge of other directors. The directors of the firm are equally liable for the funds received in the account of any company,” said officials.