New Delhi, October 3
The Delhi Police on Tuesday arrested NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakravarty in an anti-terror case registered against the news portal in August after the Enforcement Directorate shared inputs on alleged receipt of money by the portal from entities linked to China, with the objective of pushing Chinese propaganda.
Editorial: Raids on journalists
The arrests came after daylong searches across 30 locations in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai which Delhi Police Special Cell personnel conducted. The police questioned 46 suspects, including journalist-contributors of NewsClick.
While 37 men, including journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and D Raghunandan of the Centre for Technology and Development, were questioned at the Delhi Police Special Cell office, nine women were questioned at their residence.
“Digital devices and documents have been seized for examination. The proceedings are underway. So far, two accused, Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, have been arrested. Further investigation is in progress,” the police said in a statement on Tuesday night. Delhi Police sources said NewsClick received about Rs 38 crore from China-linked entities and the money went into pushing pro-China narratives.
The sources said Rs 29 crore was taken as fee for export services and Rs 9 crore as FDI by inflating share prices.
The fresh case in which raids were carried out at the office of NewsClick (which was sealed this evening) and residences of people linked to the portal was registered in August under Sections 16, 17 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
The case was registered days after a US media report on how an American millionaire financed networks to push Chinese propaganda worldwide, including in India, through news site NewsClick. On August 7, Union Minister of State for IT Rajeev Chandrashekhar had said, “Such anti-India forces (read NewsClick) fan a consistent narrative. And there is one political leader (read Rahul Gandhi) who is consistent with this narrative...”
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur today said probe agencies were independent and were doing their job.
INDIA bloc today condemned the raids and said the BJP government’s coercive actions were directed only against those who spoke the truth to power and not against those who spread hatred and divisiveness.
The INDIA bloc said in a statement, “The government has tried to convert the media into a mouthpiece for its partisan and ideological interests by facilitating the takeover of media organisations by crony capitalists.”
The Editors Guild of India issued a statement saying that it was deeply concerned about raids at the residences of senior journalists early this morning.
Among those raided were activist Teesta Setalvad, Gautam Navlakha; journalists Bhasha Singh, Aditi Nigam, Mahesh Kumar, Subodh Verma, Mukund Jha and satirist Sanjay Rajaura.
The police said the money received by NewsClick was allegedly used to pay salaries to journalists and contributors currently under investigation. The cops also raided the residence of CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury to question the son of a staff member. The son, Sunmit Kumar, works at NewsClick and his phone and laptop were also taken.
Rights bodies, editors guild condemn raids
- The Indian American Muslim Council, the largest advocacy body of diaspora Indian Muslims, has termed the raids an attempt to “punish innocent journalists and writers”
- “Our solidarity with all those who bravely raise their voices,” noted the US-based Hindus for Human Rights
- The Editors Guild of India said it was a bid to "muzzle" the press
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