Registering a case against the news platform NewsClick under the strict Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act ( UAPA), Delhi Police's Special Cell on Tuesday morning conducted raids at the places of the news portal's journalists, officials said.
VIDEO | Delhi Police Special Cell conducts raids at several locations linked to news portal 'NewsClick' in Delhi-NCR.— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) October 3, 2023
NewsClick is alleged to have received dubious funds to spread Chinese propaganda. The allegation was levelled against the portal following a report in the New… pic.twitter.com/xn8AeoY2NI
This development comes amid allegations that the news portal had received funds from China.
As per media reports, Delhi Police has registered cases under sections of UAPA, 153A of IPC (promoting enmity between two groups), 120B of IPC (Criminal conspiracy).
Previously, raids were also conducted by the Enforcement Directorate at the firm's premises probing its sources of funding. The Special Cell is conducting raids on the basis of inputs provided by the central agency.
Police recovered the dump data of laptops and mobile phones of some journalists of NewsClick. The Special Cell has registered a new case and started investigation, officials said.
Journalists brought to police station
Some journalists have been brought to the Lodhi Road Special Cell office, but no one has been arrested so far, they said.
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."
The Press Club of India on X said it is deeply concerned about raids on the houses of journalists and writers associated with NewsClick.
"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.'
What is the controversy all about?
In August, the Delhi High Court sought the stand of NewsClick Founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha on a plea by the city police seeking vacation of an earlier order granting him interim protection from arrest in an unlawful foreign funding case.
The website recently hit the headlines for allegedly receiving money from US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for pro-China propaganda in India.
Citing an investigation by The New York Times, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur too recently claimed that the NewsClick's money trail revealed an "anti-India agenda."
Opposition Parties Slam BJP: Who said What?
The Congress on Tuesday alleged that the raids on contributing journalists at Newsclick was 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 comes 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.
The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday slammed the BJP-led Centre over raids at online news portal NewsClick's premises, saying it is "scared" of journalists.
AAP chief national spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar alleged that the Modi government is pretending to fight China by arresting its own journalists because it didn't have the courage to engage with it directly.
"There are two types of journalists in the country — there are those who have surrendered before Modi ji and who are being rewarded every day by Modi ji. And then there are those who are fighting for the country and exposing the shortcomings of the Modi government.
"Modi ji is a coward. He is threatening those journalists by arresting them on ridiculous charges," Kakkar told PTI.
In light of today's developmnet in connection with the NewsClick fnding row, Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday described the raids by the Delhi Police's Special Cell at the residences of NewsClick journalists as a "fishing" expedition.
Mufti said the raids were extremely perturbing. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister also accused the central government of championing press abroad and attacking it at home.
"GOI claims India is the mother of democracy & about press freedom abroad yet in the same breath uses state agencies to the crackdown on the remaining handful of independent media outlets.
"Even telephone devices have been forcibly snatched only for a fishing expedition. The repeated illegal pattern of arrest first & creating fake charges later is extremely perturbing (sic)," Mufti wrote in a post on X.