The Delhi Police lodged a complaint against digital media outlet NewsClick on Tuesday under the strict anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), amid suspicions that the news portal got financing from China.
ACP Lalit Mohan Negi of the Delhi Police Special Cell visited the NewsClick headquarters in the national capital.
The police also searched the residences of numerous journalists linked with NewsClick, although no arrests have been made as of yet, according to the PTI News agency.
The Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsClick, Prabir Purkayastha, was taken to the Delhi Police Special Cell headquarters on Tuesday.
The police recovered the dump data from certain NewsClick journalists’ laptops and mobile phones. According to officials, the Special Cell has opened a new case and begun an investigation. The Special Cell conducts raids based on information provided by the central agency.
“Delhi police landed at my home,” prominent journalist Abhisar Sharma tweeted on X. “I’m taking my laptop and phone.”
Meanwhile, the Press Club of India has expressed worry about the frequent searches on the homes of NewsClick journalists. “We are closely monitoring developments and will issue a detailed statement,” the Press Club of India posted on the X platform.
On the Delhi Police raids at various NewsClick-related locations, Congress MP Pramod Tiwari stated, “I fear dictatorship has come… This is the BJP’s statement to all journalists. We support independent journalism. These raids are fiercely condemned by us.”
Concerning the NewsClick controversy: In August of this year, the New York Times reported that the Indian news portal NewsClick was among the organizations supported by a network linked to US businessman Neville Roy Singham in order to spread Chinese propaganda.
The Enforcement Directorate, India’s anti-money laundering agency, had previously conducted searches on the firm’s offices to investigate its funding sources.
In February 2021, the agency raided NewsClick’s offices and the homes of its editors in connection with an alleged money laundering investigation and performed search and seizure operations. Its case involving alleged foreign money is based on an FIR filed by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police.
At the time, the ED’s investigation revealed that NewsClick had received overseas remittances totaling over 77 crore between 2018 and 2021.
According to ED, the remittances came in the form of subscriptions to shares of PPK Newsclick Studio, which operates the news portal, and for the provision of specific services. Remittances were received from firms such as Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, USA; GSPAN LLC, Delaware; Justice & Education Fund Inc; Tricontinental Ltd Inc, USA; and Centro Popular De Midas, Brazil, according to ED.
The ED claimed that these businesses were connected to Singham.
The ED stated that on January 26, 2020, it discovered an email from Singham to NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and Tricontinental executive director Vijay Prashad, among others, discussing the subtitling of a Chinese propaganda video.
This year, the New York Times included NewsClick in one of its pieces, writing, “The authorities in India raided a news organization affiliated to Mr Singham amid a press crackdown, accusing it of having ties to the Chinese government but presenting no proof… According to business papers, Mr. Singham’s network funded NewsClick, a news site in New Delhi that laced its material with Chinese government talking points.” According to the article, Singham “works closely with the Chinese government media machine and finances its propaganda.”
Singham, on the other hand, firmly refuted the charges. “I am a member of, work for, take orders from, or obey any political party, government, or their representatives.” “I am solely guided by my beliefs, which are my long-held personal views,” he explained to the New York Times.