Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of NewsClick, found himself in the hot seat after being apprehended in connection with a case filed under anti-terror laws. The case centers on accusations that the news portal received funds for propagating pro-China content. The Delhi Police has now claimed that Purkayastha conspired to propagate a narrative asserting that both Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories.
On Tuesday, Mr. Purkayastha, along with the company's HR head Amit Chakravarty, was arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police.
In their remand application, the police stated, "Secret intelligence inputs have revealed that Purkayastha, Neville Roy Singham, and several other Chinese employees of Singham-owned Shanghai-based company have exchanged emails revealing their intent to depict Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as non-parts of India." The application further asserts that "such endeavors by these individuals expose their plot to disseminate a narrative, both nationally and internationally, that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories. Their actions aimed at altering India's northern borders and representing Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as separate from India on maps constitute a deliberate attempt to undermine India's unity and territorial integrity," PTI reported.
The application also revealed that Gautam Navlakha, a shareholder in NewsClick, was allegedly involved in anti-Indian and unlawful activities, including support for banned Naxal organizations and connections with Gulam Nabi Fai, an agent of Pakistan's ISI.
Additionally, the police claimed that foreign funds had been illicitly diverted by Mr. Purkayastha and his associates. According to the application, "The accused individuals also conspired to disrupt essential supplies and services, impacting the livelihood of Indian communities, by prolonging the farmers' protests through illegal foreign funding."
The application further detailed the propagation of a false narrative aimed at discrediting the Indian government's efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. It was revealed that Mr. Purkayastha conspired with the People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism to undermine the electoral process during the 2019 general elections. The People's Dispatch Portal, owned by NewsClick, was allegedly employed to intentionally disseminate these false narratives in exchange for substantial sums of illegally routed foreign funds.
The application also pointed to email correspondence indicating direct communication between Singham, Purkayastha, and Chakraborty, discussing strategies to create a map of India without Kashmir and depict Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed region.
To achieve this objective, the accused individuals purportedly received over ₹115 crore under the guise of foreign funds.
A series of raids were conducted on Tuesday at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states involving individuals named in the FIR and identified through data analysis.
The police successfully obtained a seven-day custody of both accused individuals after applying for a 15-day police remand.
NewsClick's office in Delhi was sealed by the police, who questioned 46 suspects and seized digital devices, including laptops and mobile phones, along with various documents for further examination.