NewsClick Raids: Delhi Police Arrests 2, Including Editor-in-Chief, in UAPA Case

The Delhi Police on Tuesday registered a fresh case against NewsClick under the UAPA amid the China funding row.

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The Delhi Police on Tuesday, 3 October, arrested two persons after conducting raids at over 30 locations, including homes of journalists, in connection with a probe into the funding of news portal NewsClick.

The arrested persons include NewsClick Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkaystha and Human Resources chief Amit Chakravarty.

The raids reportedly took place at the residences of 46 people including Purkayastha, video journalist Abhisar Sharma, political commentator and senior journalist Aunindyo Chakravarty, veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Bhasha Singh, Bappa Sinha, and Urmilesh.

"Nine police personnel came to my home in Gurugram at 6:30 in the morning. They asked me various questions. I came with them voluntarily to the Special Cell of the Delhi Police. The same set of questions were asked over and over again, if I am an employee of Newsclick, I said 'No, I'm a consultant'. After I came here I learnt that an FIR has been lodged apparently under the Unlawful Activities Preventions Act," Thakurta told news agency ANI.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police said, "A total of 37 male suspects have been questioned at premises, 9 female suspects have been questioned at their respective places of stay and digital devices, documents etc. have been seized/collected for examination."

Some journalists, including Thakurta and Urmilesh, were also taken to Special Cell's office. Urmilesh was released later in the evening.

"We have been here (outside Police Special Cell office in Delhi) since 10 am and have been trying to meet our clients. However, we have not been able to meet them, neither have we been provided with any documents, nor did we get the copy of the FIR," Gaurav Yadav, advocate of NewsClick journalist Urmilesh, told news agency PTI.

Speaking to The Quint on the condition of anonymity, a police official said, "This morning, the Delhi Police Special Cell carried out raids at over 30 locations, including the residences of seven journalists across Delhi-NCR. The raids were in connection to people associated with NewsClick."

A fresh case has been registered by the Delhi Police Special Cell against NewsClick under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA.

The news portal has been under the scanner of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) amid allegations that it received funds from China.

During the raid, the Special Cell seized electronic evidence, including laptops and mobile phones, and took data dumps of hard disks, the official confirmed.

The houses of past and present Newsclick journalists, contributors, and employees were allegedly searched. The others raided early Tuesday morning included satirist and stand-up comic Sanjay Rajoura and historian Sohail Hashmi.

Raids were also conducted in Mumbai at activist Teesta Setalvad's house and CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury's residence. Setalvad is the director of think tank Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, which has contributed articles to NewsClick.

The raid at Yechury's residence was prompted by the presence of a NewsClick employee reportedly residing within the premises, the CPI(M) leader confirmed to news agency ANI.


'Police Conducted Searches for Over Three Hours'

Sarah Hashmi, daughter of historian Sohail Hashmi, told The Quint that six officials reached their New Delhi residence at 6 am Tuesday morning – and conducted a search for over 1.5 hours.

"Initially, they barged into our house without showing us the search warrant. They only said that they want to investigate all those linked to the Newsclick investigation. Upon asking them again, we were handed over the warrant which my father (Sohail Hashmi) read. He was questioned by the officials and was asked what he does, and who he is associated with. They have seized his laptop, phone, hard disk and pen drives."
Sarah Hashmi

Terming the raids as "sheer harassment and intimidation," Sarah told The Quint, "This is an attack of freedom of speech and dissent on anyone who speaks up against the government."

Speaking to The Quint, a journalist at NewsClick said that "the police reached her residence with a search warrant and questioned her for over three hours."

"The search warrant had mentions of UAPA Act, Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code, but I wasn't sure why I was being searched. They questioned me about my work during the farmers' protest, Delhi riots, and COVID-19 pandemic in India. They also asked me what my intention was while covering those stories. They also asked me if I got paid extra to cover the issues."
NewsClick journalist to The Quint

The journalist added that she was was not aware as to why she was being questioned until she read news reports online. "I couldn't contact my colleagues or seniors at work because my phone was seized. The police told me that I wasn't the only one being questioned," she told The Quint.

"As journalists, it is our job to report and write on several issues. When they target people like us, it's unfair. It's not the right way to treat the media," she added.


What Is the Case Involving NewsClick?

In August 2023, The New York Times had published an investigation alleging that NewsClick is one of the organisations funded by US-based tech mogul Neville Roy Singham for "pushing Chinese propaganda." The report had claimed that Singham's networks fuelled disinformation and influenced mainstream narratives by promoting pro-China messages.

In response to allegations in The New York Times report, that NewsClick is part of a global network used to spread Chinese state propaganda, the organisation told The Quint:

"The allegations being made against us by certain political actors and sections of the media are unfounded and without basis in fact or law. NewsClick is an independent news organisation, and any insinuation that we function as a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China or other interests is false."

Speaking to The Indian Express then, NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha had then said: "These are not new allegations. They have been made in the past. We will respond to them in the appropriate forum, i.e. the court, as the matter is sub judice."

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Topics:  Delhi Police   Raids   Sanjay Rajoura 

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