The Delhi Police Special Cell has initiated a fresh case against NewsClick under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). In a significant development, raids are currently underway at approximately 35 locations, including the residences of seven journalists and various sites connected to the news portal NewsClick.
This latest case has been filed against the news portal by the Delhi Police Special Cell under the UAPA. The organization has come under the scrutiny of both the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi Police and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) following allegations of receiving funds from China.
Sources close to the matter have revealed that these funds were acquired unlawfully, and the necessary documentation was not provided to the authorities. The situation escalated as journalist Abhisar Sharma posted on social media, stating, “Delhi police arrived at my home, taking away my laptop and phone.”
Early on Tuesday morning, teams from the Delhi Police Special Cell were dispatched to the residences of multiple journalists affiliated with the organization. It is reported that they confiscated various devices, including laptops and mobile phones, owned by these journalists. Several journalists have been detained for further questioning.
The police are not limiting their actions to journalists’ homes; they are also conducting extensive raids at the premises and buildings associated with the news portal and its founders/editors. In addition, raids were carried out in Mumbai, including at Teesta Setalvad’s residence. Comedian Sanjay Rajaura was brought in for questioning at the Special Cell’s office in Lodhi Colony. As of now, no arrests have been made, but the police have indicated that some individuals may be detained based on the progress of their investigation.
These raids are being executed in connection with the ongoing ED investigation. Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, emphasized that the probe agencies are independent and are carrying out their duties in compliance with established rules. He stated, “I don’t need to justify the raids. If someone has done something wrong, the probe agencies are simply doing their job. It’s not written anywhere that probe agencies can’t take action if money has been received from illicit sources or if something objectionable has occurred.” He made these remarks while responding to questions about the NewsClick raids from reporters in Bhubaneswar.
The Press Club of India has expressed its concern over these raids and released a statement in solidarity with the journalists. They are urging the government to provide additional details regarding the ongoing situation.
Earlier this year, in August, The New York Times published an investigation alleging that NewsClick was among the organizations funded by a network associated with US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for promoting Chinese propaganda. The report indicated that Indian authorities had raided a news organization linked to Mr. Singham during a press crackdown, accusing it of ties to the Chinese government without providing substantial evidence. Corporate filings in New Delhi showed that Mr. Singham’s network financially supported NewsClick, which reportedly incorporated Chinese government talking points into its coverage.
It is worth noting that similar allegations against NewsClick were first made by the ED in 2021 when they conducted searches at the news portal’s premises as part of a probe into alleged foreign remittances. In response to these recurring allegations, NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha stated that these are not new accusations and have been previously addressed. He emphasized that the organization would respond to these allegations through the appropriate legal channels, as the matter is currently sub judice. Furthermore, the Income Tax Department had also raided NewsClick in 2021