The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Tuesday, 9 February, morning raided the Saidulajab office of NewsClick in Delhi, as well as the homes of journalists and others associated with the independent media portal. After over 48 hours, the raid ended on late Wednesday night.
According to a report by IANS, the searches started around 10 am. An officer outside the NewsClick office, who refused to disclose his name, informed that this was ‘just a routine check’, as per Newslaundry.
One of the editors of NewsClick, Pranjal, spoke to Newslaundry saying, “There’s been an ongoing raid since morning,” he said. “We were shown a notice. Right now, our documents are being checked.”
They conducted raids at the residence of NewsClick’s owner Prabir Purkayastha, and editor Pranjal, as well as human resources head Amit Chakravarty, confirmed The Wire.
The ED is allegedly probing into a money laundering case for taking foreign funding from some dubious companies abroad.
Newclick put out an editorial about the raids saying, “During the raid, NewsClick has cooperated with the officials and will continue to do so. If the ED and the government are truthful and follow the course of law, no wrongdoing will be found and this unfortunate event will be closed. NewsClick has nothing to hide”
The statement added, “It has become a routine practice with the present government to deploy government-controlled agencies to deal with all those who disagree with and criticise the government.”
“The whole panoply of the legal instruments available with the government have been deployed for such politically motivated coercive actions, including filing cases of sedition, defamation, harming harmony, breach of peace, etc,” it said.
“The present raid at NewsClick appears to be on the same lines, and its purpose appears to be the same: to cow down an independent and progressive voice through a vindictive course of action,” stated the independent news organisation.
“Efforts such as these raids, to suppress protests and indeed, any striving for progressive thought, will not deter those who stand for justice,” concluded the statement.
Press Groups Condemn Raid
Digipub, the Press Club of India and The Editors Guild of India have strongly condemned the ED raids on NewsClick.
The Editors Guild of India stated that they are deeply concerned by the raid. In a press statement registered its protest, it stated, “In the recent past, the website has been at the frontline of reporting on the farmers agitation, the anti-CAA protests and has been critical of various government policies and of a few powerful corporate houses. “
Digipub condemned the raid strongly in its statement and said that “the ED raids on NewsClick, its editor and directors is a clear attempt to suppress journalism critical of the government and its allies. Such use of state agencies to intimidate journalists and suppress adversarial journalism is detrimental not only to freedom of press but also the very idea of democratic accountability. Everyone emerges poorer in the long run.”
Digipub condemns the raid on Newsclick
(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
The Press Club of India, in its statement said, “In the past one year, numerous FIRs have been registered against journalists on the plainly specious and false charge of sedition and incitement of communal disharmony. The PCI has seen it as a duty to record its protest in all such matters.”
“It has been seen to be the case that vile charges against journalists and against boutique journalist groups doing group level work to expose communal agendas and poor people issues do not make headway in terms of investigations. Nor have they withstood judicial scrutiny. All they end up doing is give the government a bad name,” added PCI’s statement.
“The PCI asks the government to end raid raj and false allegations raj against the media and take visible steps to ensure democratic freedoms such as free speech and right to liberty,” concluded the statement.
(With inputs from The Wire, Hindu and Newslaundry)