Prabir Purkayastha, founder and editor-in-chief of NewsClick, has been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the Delhi Police. The police have also sealed the NewsClick office as part of their investigation into allegations that the media outlet received funds for pro-China propaganda.
NewsClick has been under scrutiny for allegedly receiving funds from China. Indian investigative authorities initiated a case against the media site and its journalists on August 17, following a New York Times report that claimed NewsClick had received funds from an American millionaire who was accused of supporting the spread of Chinese propaganda.
Delhi Police reported, “Regarding the search, seizure, and detentions carried out today in connection with a UAPA case registered with Special Cell, so far, two accused, Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty have been arrested.” They further stated that 37 male suspects had been questioned at various locations, 9 female suspects had been questioned at their residences, and digital devices and documents had been seized for examination.
On Tuesday, Delhi Police conducted searches at 30 locations linked to the online news portal NewsClick and its journalists in a case filed under the anti-terror law UAPA, alleging that the outlet received funds for pro-China propaganda. Later in the day, the police sealed NewsClick’s office.
Founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha was taken to the NewsClick south Delhi office, where a forensic team was present. Several journalists, including Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, and historians Sohail Hashmi and D Raghunandan of the Centre for Technology & Development, were questioned by the police.
The Enforcement Directorate had previously conducted raids at NewsClick’s premises to investigate its sources of funding. The Special Cell is now continuing the searches based on inputs provided by the central agency, officials said.
The Special Cell has registered a new case under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and initiated an investigation, Delhi Police sources revealed. The raids are based on a case registered in August under UAPA and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Authorities also confiscated laptops and mobile phones belonging to some NewsClick journalists during the operation.