Muslim woman journalist’s house set on fire

An independent Muslim woman journalist based in Delhi, Khushboo Akhtar, who operates a popular YouTube channel called ‘Pal Pal News,’ has claimed that her house was set on fire, resulting in the destruction of her books, including a copy of the Quran and the Ramayana. While Akhtar hasn’t identified the culprits, she believes she may have been targeted due to her journalism work, which focuses on raising issues concerning Muslims and other marginalized communities.

The incident occurred on August 30, while Akhtar and her family were not at their old house, having moved to another location in the city a year ago. Nevertheless, they frequently visited their old house and interacted with their neighbors.

Akhtar filed a first information report (FIR) at the Sultanpuri police station, and the case falls under Section 436 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with “mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy a house.”

No specific suspects or accused individuals were named in the FIR. Akhtar ruled out the possibility of a short circuit and mentioned that her family had disconnected the power supply to prevent such accidents.

Upon investigation, Akhtar noticed that her books, including religious scriptures, were pulled from a cupboard and set on fire outside a room next to a washing machine.

She received threats related to her work, including rape threats and others via Facebook comments and WhatsApp, but considered them somewhat commonplace. However, she emphasized that setting someone’s house on fire was not normal.

‘Pal Pal News’ boasts 2.17 million subscribers on YouTube and focuses on issues related to Muslim, Dalit, tribal, children’s and women’s rights, as well as farmers’ concerns. In 2018, YouTube terminated the channel’s account due to violations of its community guidelines on hate speech, following a video addressing hate speech against Muslims.

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