TN CM Stalin confers communal harmony award on fact checker Md Zubair, BJP sees red

Mohammed Zubair received the award for "his contribution in prevention of violence" by debunking claims on social media that migrant workers were under attack in Tamil Nadu

Zubair (right) "stopped the spread of rumours against Tamil Nadu and acted to prevent violence caused by caste, religion, race and language", a govt statement said (photo: @zoo_bear/X)
Zubair (right) "stopped the spread of rumours against Tamil Nadu and acted to prevent violence caused by caste, religion, race and language", a govt statement said (photo: @zoo_bear/X)
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PTI

Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin on Friday presented the state government's award for promotion of communal harmony to fact-checker Mohammed Zubair "in recognition of his contribution in prevention of violence" by debunking claims on social media that migrant workers were under attack in Tamil Nadu. A co-founder of AltNews, Zubair was presented the award by Stalin at the 75th Republic Day celebrations in the state.

While Zubair expressed happiness over the award, the BJP's state unit took strong exception to the government awarding a "biased manipulator".

The government said in March 2023, claims were made on social media that "migrant workers were being attacked in Tamil Nadu". After verifying the authenticity of the video clips that made such claims, Zubair made it amply clear on AltNews that the claims were false and no such attacks took place in Tamil Nadu.

"Thus, he stopped the spread of rumours against Tamil Nadu and acted to prevent violence caused by caste, religion, race and language in the state," the government said in the award citation. "In appreciation of the services rendered by him in maintenance of communal harmony, Thiru Mohammed Zubair is presented with the Kottai Ameer Communal Harmony Award for the year 2024."

Further, the government said Zubair has been "rendering various services to promote communal harmony".

The Tamil Nadu government instituted the Kottai Ameer Communal Harmony Award in 2000 for nurturing communal harmony. It is conferred on an individual from the state (Zubair is a resident of Denkanikottai taluka of Krishnagiri district) in recognition of outstanding services in building harmony. The award carries a medal, a cash component of Rs 25,000 and a certificate honouring the individual's services.

Taking to micro-blogging site X, Zubair said he "didn't know this thread and multiple fact checks by my team debunking dangerous fake news related to migrant workers from Bihar in Tamil Nadu would be recognised by the govt".

"Thank you everyone. I am overwhelmed to receive the 'Kottai Ameer Communal Harmony Award' from the Tamil Nadu Govt. Very happy that our work at @AltNews is recognised, appreciated and celebrated. Congratulations to all my team members and thank you to all the well-wishers for the trust and support," he said.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu BJP president K. Annamalai questioned the ruling DMK's choice of Zubair. "The Social Harmony Award to a Biased Manipulator on Republic Day is an insult to all recipients of this award in the past...." he said in a post on 'X.'

He added that the DMK has "developed a new liking for half-truth peddlers under the disguise of fact-checkers. Tax money is down the drain, but does it matter to the DMK Govt?" he asked.

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