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.
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.
They conducted raids at the residence of NewsClick’s owner Prabir Purkayastha, and editor Pranjal, confirmed The Wire.
The ED is allegedly probing into a money laundering case for taking foreign funding from some dubious companies abroad.
SC Stays Arrest of Tharoor, Sardesai and Others
This comes on the same day that the Supreme Court stayed the arrest of journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Vinod K Jose, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Anant Nath, and Paresh Nath, as well as Congress leader Shashi Tharoor over the FIRs registered against them for their tweets about the farmers’ tractor rally on 26 January, Republic Day.
The FIRs against Tharoor and the journalists have been filed in multiple states, including Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. They were booked for sedition by the Noida Police on Thursday, 28 January, with the FIR stating that they shared misinformed news and 'instigated violence' on 26 January.
They were later booked by both the Delhi and the Gurugram Police. The case had been registered under Sections 124 A, 153 A, 153 B, 505 (2), and 120 B with charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy, and promoting enmity under the Indian Penal Code.
They had earlier approached the Supreme Court over the FIRs against them pertaining to the reportage on the death of a farmer in Delhi during the farmers’ tractor rally.
‘Attack on Reporting the Voice of the People’
In the context of recent FIRs against journalists, several student organisations, journalists, reacted to the ED raid at NewsClick’s office.
Journalist Prashant Kanojia expressed his solidarity with the media house, writing “ED has raided NewsClick’s office because woh jan ki baat karta hai, mann ki baat nahi karta (they talk of the people not of Mann Ki Baat).”
In response to the raid, the Students’ Federation of India took to the social media platform saying, “The government is using the typical tactic of ED raids to scare media houses,” adding that, “This is linked to their unbiased coverage of the farmers’ protest.”
Author and activist Kavitha Krishnan also reiterated Kanojia’s view, saying, “Modi and Shah continue to muzzle independent small media, that unlike big ‘modia’, insists on reporting on the andolans — people's movements — of our country.”
The president of All India Students' Association, N Sai Balaji said, “The ED raid is an attack on independent media that is doing their job i.e. reporting truth and covering #Andolan, the voice of people.”
(With inputs from IANS, The Wire and Newslaundry)