delhi police raids newsclick

delhi police raids newsclick

Invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Delhi Police Special Cell conducted extensive searches at over 50 locations associated with the news portal NewsClick, its staff, and contributors. Subsequently, they arrested Prabir Purkayastha, the founder and editor-in-chief of NewsClick, along with Amit Chakravarty, the head of its human resource department. This operation spanned across the National Capital Region and Mumbai, resulting in the questioning of 46 individuals identified as “suspects,” and the seizure of their “digital devices.” Additionally, the police sealed NewsClick’s office in Delhi.

delhi police raids newsclick
image credit: hindustan times

The basis for this police action lies in an FIR filed on August 17, following inputs from the Enforcement Directorate, which alleged that NewsClick had received illicit funding from China, channeled through the United States. The Enforcement Directorate had previously conducted searches at NewsClick’s premises in February 2021, as part of an investigation into foreign remittances purportedly received between 2018 and 2021.

Sources have indicated that the FIR specifically mentions US businessman Neville Roy Singham and highlights funding amounting to Rs 80 crore. In August, an investigation by The New York Times had implicated NewsClick as one of the organizations funded by a network associated with Singham, allegedly involved in disseminating Chinese propaganda on a global scale.

The FIR encompasses charges under various sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, including Sections 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for terrorist acts), 18 (conspiracy), and 22 (C) (offences by companies, trusts), in addition to IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).

 

Early on Tuesday, extensive searches were conducted across multiple locations including Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Mumbai, which continued for approximately seven to eight hours. Numerous individuals, including journalists, technicians, and contributors affiliated with NewsClick, either presently or in the past, were subjected to these searches and interrogations. The authorities seized a significant number of phones, laptops, and other electronic devices during this operation.

Delhi Police spokesperson Suman Nalwa provided an update on the situation, stating, “A total of 37 male suspects and 9 female suspects have been questioned at their respective places of residence, and digital devices, documents, etc., have been seized and collected for examination. This is in connection with a UAPA case registered with the Special Cell. The proceedings are still ongoing. So far, two accused, Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, have been arrested. Further investigation is in progress.”

delhi police raids newsclick

With the exception of Purkayastha and Chakravarty, those who were detained for questioning were released later in the evening and were asked to cooperate with the ongoing investigation on October 5-6.

delhi police raids newsclick

Notable individuals who were either questioned or subjected to searches included Abhisar Sharma, Bhasha Singh, Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Satyam Tiwari, Subodh Verma, the cartoonist Irfan, historian Sohail Hashmi, and satirist Sanjay Rajoura. In Mumbai, searches were conducted at the home and office of Teesta Setalvad.

delhi police raids newsclick

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, when contacted, shared his experience, saying, “Nine policemen came to my home at around 6:30 am…I voluntarily went to the Delhi Police Special Cell office on Lodi Road. I told them I have nothing to hide; I have been a consultant with Newsclick since May 2018. I raise an invoice; my remuneration started with Rs 1.5 lakh a month, it was reduced after Covid, and there have been several months when I haven’t raised any invoice. I told them I have a single bank account, and they can check all this.”

Regarding the ED’s probe into NewsClick’s funding source, Thakurta clarified, “I don’t know anything about the funding; I am neither a shareholder of the company nor part of the editorial board. I am only a consultant.”

When asked about the invocation of the UAPA, he commented, “In February 2021, the ED kept Prabir Purkayastha confined to his home for five days; they couldn’t arrest him, neither could the Economic Offences Wing nor Income Tax. The Delhi High Court has stopped any coercive action; that’s why they invoked the draconian UAPA. Imagine the impact all this has on my wife, family, neighbors, as if I am a criminal.”

Several journalists who were questioned reported that they were asked about their coverage of events such as the Delhi riots, the anti-CAA protests, and the farmers’ protests.

Another journalist who was questioned at home shared, “They asked me if I reported on the G20 Summit in Delhi. They repeatedly asked me if I went to Jamia Millia Islamia during the anti-CAA protests and the 2020 Delhi riots. They have taken my bank account details and seized my laptop and phone. The FIR wasn’t shown to me. They asked me about the remuneration I received for a few articles I wrote.

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