In a recent development, the Delhi Police has sealed the office of news portal NewsClick as part of an ongoing probe related to a case filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). This case revolves around allegations that NewsClick received funds for promoting pro-China propaganda.
The Delhi Police’s special cell conducted searches at 30 locations associated with NewsClick and its journalists. As of now, no arrests have been made during these searches, which primarily focused on the Delhi-NCR region.
Founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha was taken to the portal’s south Delhi office, where a forensic team was present.
Among those questioned were journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, and historian Sohail Hashmi. The police presented them with a list of 25 questions covering various aspects, including their foreign travels, involvement in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, and participation in the farmers’ agitation.
The residences of former and current NewsClick employees were also subject to raids, and individuals were questioned about their past and current news reports, including coverage related to COVID-19 and the farmers’ protests.
The Delhi Police’s actions stem from a case registered on August 17 under the UAPA, along with other sections of the Indian Penal Code. This case invokes several sections of the UAPA, including 13, 16, 17, 18, and 22, along with IPC sections 153(a) (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120(b) (criminal conspiracy).
These raids have drawn strong condemnation from various journalist organizations. The Press Club of India and the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMIndia), expressed shock over the raids, denouncing them as attempts to stifle press freedom.
Amnesty India also voiced its concern over the use of UAPA against journalists and activists, calling for the protection of the right to freedom of expression.
The Editors Guild of India expressed grave concerns about the raids and the detention of senior NewsClick journalists. Meanwhile, DIGIPUB News India Foundation characterized these actions as part of a pattern of arbitrary and intimidatory behavior by the government.
In a joint statement, the National Alliance of Journalists, the Delhi Union of Journalists, and the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (Delhi unit) condemned the police raids and called for the safeguarding of press freedom.
In summary, the Delhi Police’s sealing of the NewsClick office and the subsequent searches are part of an ongoing UAPA probe related to allegations of pro-China propaganda. These actions have sparked widespread condemnation from journalist bodies, which view them as threats to press freedom and freedom of expression.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is a law in India that deals with terrorism-related activities. It was invoked in this case due to allegations of pro-China propaganda, which raised concerns about national security.
The police conducted searches at 30 locations connected to NewsClick, including the news portal’s office, the residences of its journalists, and the homes of former and current employees.
Various journalist organizations, such as the Press Club of India, Amnesty India, and the Editors Guild of India, have expressed shock and concern over the raids. They view these actions as threats to press freedom and freedom of expression.