The special cell of Delhi Police on Tuesday conducted raids at the places of journalists associated with NewsClick, months after a report alleged that the website was funded by a network tied to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for pushing Chinese propaganda.
Following The New York Times investigation report, authorities registered a case under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in August. Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate had raided the firm's premises to probe its sources of funds. The Special Cell raid is based on the inputs provided by the central agency and covers over 20 locations.
As per reports, police recovered the dump data from laptops and mobile phones of some journalists of NewsClick. Though no arrests have been made so far, some journalists, including founder and editor-in-chief of NewsClick Prabir Purkayastha and writers Urmilesh and Gaurav Yadav, were taken to police stations for questioning.
Abhisar Sharma, a senior journalist, wrote on X, "Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and phone." Another journalist, Bhasha Singh, wrote on X, "Finally last tweet from this phone. Delhi police seizure (sic) my phone."
Raids were also conducted on the residence of CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. "Police came to my residence because one of my companions who lives with me there, his son works for NewsClick. Police came to question him. They took his laptop and phone. What are they investigating, nobody knows. If this is an attempt to try and muzzle the media, the country must know the reason behind this," Yechury told reporters.
The raids were condemned by the Press Club of India which said it was deeply concerned about the developments. "The Press Club of India is deeply concerned about the multiple raids conducted on the houses of journalists and writers associated with #Newsclick. We are monitoring the developments and will be releasing a detailed statement. "The PCI stands in solidarity with the journalists and demands the government to come out with details," it said.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur too recently claimed that the NewsClick's money trail revealed an "anti-India agenda." On Tuesday after the raids began, Thakur said the agencies were free to carry out an investigation. "I don't need to justify. If anyone has committed anything wrong, search agencies are free to carry out investigations against them under set guidelines," the Union Minister told reporters.
The Congress on Tuesday alleged that the raids on contributing journalists at Newsclick were a "fresh distraction" from the "explosive" findings of the caste survey in Bihar and the growing demand for a caste census across the country.
Congress' media and publicity department head Pawan Khera said the early morning raids on contributing journalists at Newsclick come as a "fresh distraction from the explosive findings of caste census in Bihar and the growing demand for caste census across the country". "When he faces questions from out of syllabus, he resorts to the only counter he has in his predictable syllabus - DISTRACTION," Khera said on X.