Delhi Police raids homes of journalists, others following fresh FIR against NewsClick under UAPA
New Delhi: Delhi Police teams Tuesday raided at least 30 locations across Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad, including homes of journalists, and other addresses associated with the news portal NewsClick, ThePrint has learnt. According to sources in Delhi Police, the raids — which saw the deputation of 100 police personnel across the city — are being conducted in connection to a fresh FIR, registered by the Special Cell on 17 August under sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, against the news portal, for alleged receipt of funds from China.
NewsClick has already been under the scanner of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for allegedly receiving funds from China, routed through the United States. The news portal had also faced an income tax raid in 2021.
“Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and Phone,” journalist Abhisar Sharma posted on the social media platform X (previously Twitter) Tuesday.
Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and Phone…
— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) October 3, 2023
According to sources, raids were also allegedly carried out at the house of stand-up comedian Sanjay Rajoura, who was previously part of a show on NewsClick, and his phone and laptop were seized.
Talking to ThePrint, Ilin Saraswat, counsel for Rajoura, said, “I was called in immediately. They have a laptop, mobile phone and old DVDs of his. We are apprehensive that the investigating teams might tamper with his devices. I was told by the police that the FIR is against NewsClick. He is being questioned,”
Others whose houses were raided Tuesday include journalists Bhasha Singh, Urmilesh (identified by a single name only), Aunindyo Chakraborty, NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha and oral historian Sohail Hashmi, ThePrint has found.
Sources in Delhi Police said that while multiple teams are working on the case, no arrests have been made so far.
According to the sources, raids were also being carried out at the Mumbai house of civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad. The ED is reportedly probing fund transfers amounting to approximately Rs 40 lakh from NewsClick to Teesta Setalvad’s family and about Rs 72 lakh to journalist and author Paranjoy Guha Thakurta.
‘Incriminating emails, Chinese talking points’
According to the ED investigators probing a money laundering case against NewsClick, the news portal allegedly received funds from China, routed through the US, amounting to Rs 76.84 crore.
The investigators have also claimed that NewsClick’s “China link” was established by its association with Shanghai-based American businessman Neville Roy Singham, described in the agency’s documents as a “close confidant” of editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and a contact person of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The agency also allegedly found that Singham exchanged “incriminating emails about China with editor Prabir Purkayasth” and other journalists, activists, and several Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders.
The money received from China was also allegedly used to pay for “petty maintenance work”, to a “NewsClick stakeholder who maintains the social media accounts of the CPI(M)” and pay “salary” to Bhima Koregaon accused — activist Gautam Navlakha, currently lodged in jail.
In February 2021, the ED had also conducted raids on the offices of the directors as well as editor Purkayastha.
Purkayastha and author Githa Hariharan were also detained during that raid for questioning.
In a statement, Newsclick had then said that its office “was raided for over 36 hours and some equipment vital to our functioning as a news organisation was seized” and “communication devices of directors and senior management have also been seized, which has, therefore, limited their ability to return to work or indeed, respond to queries of the media”.
A New York Times investigation report in August this year, claimed that the news portal had been incorporating “Chinese government talking points” into its coverage.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)