In an unprecedented turn of events, the Delhi Police Special Cell on Tuesday raided the houses of journalists and employees linked to NewsClick amid the news portal’s alleged Chinese links.
A large-scale raid is being carried out by the Delhi Police Special Cell at over 30 locations in Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad. The Delhi Police Special Cell has registered a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
During the raid, the Special Cell of Delhi Police seized electronic evidence including laptops, mobile phones and took data dumps of hard disks.
One of the journalists, Abhisar Sharma, posted on X, “Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and Phone…”
The searches by the Delhi Police are based on the input shared by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), indicating unlawful activities by the suspects. An investigation by ED had revealed fraudulent infusion of foreign fund of Rs 38.05 crore during a short span of three years.
The scrutiny of the evidence by the ED revealed questionable infusion of foreign inward remittance of Rs 9.59 crore by way of FDI and Rs 28.46 crore by way of export of services. The funds so received were distributed to several controversial journalists, including Gautam Navlakha and associates of Teestha Setalvad.
Details regarding China link were also shared by the ED with Delhi Police. The police are also conducting raids at residences and buildings attached to the news portal and its founders/editors. While no arrests have been made yet, the police said they might detain a few people based on the investigation.
Press Club of India comes into the support of Newsclick
The Press Club of India, in a statement, expressed concern over the raids, stating that they “stand in solidarity with the journalists and demand the government to come out with details”.
In August this year, The New York Times published an investigation alleging NewsClick is among organisations funded by a network tied to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for pushing Chinese propaganda.
“The authorities in India raided a news organization tied to Mr Singham during a crackdown on the press, accusing it of having ties to the Chinese government but offering no proof… In New Delhi, corporate filings show, Mr. Singham’s network financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points,” the NYT had reported.
Newsclick Director Prabir Purkayastha and his associate journalists are also accused of writing and publishing paid news on their website in exchange for periodical funds given by Singham to PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd.
ED indicated that Neville Roy Singham, who stays in China, gave NewClick Rs 38 crore illegally to peddle pro-China information in India.
This claim against the portal was first made by the ED in 2021 when it searched NewsClick’s premises as part of a probe into alleged foreign remittances.
Responding to the report, NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha had 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.”
The organisation was also raided by the Income Tax Department in 2021.