Delhi police raids NewsClick office, journalists amid China funding row

Delhi police raids NewsClick office, journalists amid China funding row

3rd October 2023 0 By Gayathiri M
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Raids are underway across multiple locations in the NCR. Newsclick’s journalists are being questioned and their mobile phones and laptops have been seized by the cops.

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police’s Special Cell on Tuesday morning raided the office of news portal NewsClick and the residences of journalists associated with it. 

According to official sources, the Special Cell has booked the news organisation under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

Sources informed TNIE that searches are being made at more than 30 locations across the NCR, including the office of NewsClick, while its journalists are being questioned and their mobile phones and laptops have been seized by the cops.

The website’s Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha and journalists Abhisar Sharma, Aunindyo Chakraborty and Sohail Hashmi, Bhasha Singh, Urmilesh and satirist Sanjay Rajoura were among those who were raided. It is unclear as to how many people have been detained for questioning.

Advocate Gaurav Yadav representing NewsClick journalist Urmilesh told The New Indian Express that he has not been allowed to enter the Special Cell office. “Urmilesh’s wife informed me that he has been arrested by Delhi Police. I have no other details as of now,” Yadav told this paper.

Sources said that the Special Cell has formed a list of at least 25 questions which they are asking from the detained journalists. The questions pertain to anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh, Farmers’ Protest, North East Delhi riots and even details of their foreign travels.

Senior Journalist Abhisar Sharma took to social media to inform about the raid being conducted at his residence. “Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and Phone…,” Sharma wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

NewsClick journalist Basha Singh also wrote on X confirming the Delhi police action. “Finally last tweet from this phone. Delhi police seized my phone.”

Police recovered the dumped data from laptops and mobile phones of some journalists of NewsClick. The Special Cell has registered a new case and started an investigation, officials said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had earlier raided the firm’s premises probing its sources of funding. The Special Cell is conducting raids on the basis of inputs provided by the central agency.

The ED had registered a case against the news portal and alleged that NewsClick received foreign funding in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The agency had also alleged that the money was used for anti-national activities.

In August, the Delhi High Court sought the stand of NewsClick Founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha on a plea by the city police seeking vacation of an earlier order granting him interim protection from arrest in an unlawful foreign funding case.

On August 5, The New York Times published a report titled “A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a US Tech Mogul” which claimed that the news portal NewsClick was part of a global network that received funding from American millionaire Neville Roy Singham, who allegedly works closely with the Chinese government media and promoted its point of view in various countries.

Referring to the NYT report, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur had alleged that the Congress, China and NewsClick are attached to an ‘anti-India umbilical cord’ and the agenda of the Communist Party of China is being pushed through the website.

Following the NYT report, NewsClick had issued a statement remarking that the allegations made against the organisation were “unfounded and without basis in fact or law.”

Meanwhile, the press club of India has expressed concern over the raids and demanded the Centre to come out with details of the investigation.

“The Press Club of India is deeply concerned about the multiple raids conducted on the houses of journalists and writers associated with #Newsclick. We are monitoring the developments and will be releasing a detailed statement,” the journalists’ body wrote on X.

“The PCI stands in solidarity with the journalists and demands the government to come out with details,” PCI added.

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