A special cell of Delhi Police on Tuesday morning conducted searches in the offices of the online news portal NewsClick and also searched the journalists associated with it. These searches were conducted across 35 locations in New Delhi and Mumbai and included searches of NewsClick editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha, journalists Abhisar Sharma, Urmilesh and others.
Some of the journalists were taken to the special cell’s office in Delhi, however, no one has been arrested by the police as of yet. According to PTI, the police have recovered dump data from laptops and mobile phones of some of the journalists. While Union Minister for information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur has defended the police action against NewsClick and journalists associated with it, several Opposition leaders and press bodies have condemned the move.
This action has been taken on the basis of a case registered on August 17 under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups), 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, according to ANI.The exact details of the case are, however, not known.
This comes after the portal was being already investigated by the Enforcement Directorate on money laundering charges and later in August was again in the headlines after New York Times reported that the portal was being funded by American billionaire Neville Roy Singham, who allegedly worked closely with the Chinese government media machine.
The New York Times report had cited some emails which were allegedly sent by Singham to NewsClick in which he wanted them to write a series of articles to highlight China’s steps to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The report also cited a video published by NewsClick titled “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes”. The news report had rocked the Monsoon Session of the Parliament as the ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party had attacked the Opposition over the issue.
“In 2021 when India’s law enforcement agencies initiated an inquiry against NewsClick based on strong evidence of money laundering, the Congress and the entire Left-Liberal ecosystem came to defend it,” Thakur had written on X.
NewsClick, however, had denied the claim, saying the allegations “by certain political actors and sections of the media are unfounded and without basis in fact or law”.
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