Delhi Police Conduct Raids on Homes of Prominent Journalists Linked to NewsClick
In a move that has raised concerns about press freedom, Delhi police have conducted raids on the residences of several well-known journalists and authors. These actions are part of an investigation into the funding of the news website NewsClick.
During the Tuesday morning raids, mobile phones and laptops belonging to the individuals targeted were seized by the police. The investigation revolves around allegations that NewsClick received illegal funds from China, a charge vehemently denied by the news outlet. Critics argue that this constitutes a deliberate assault on press freedom.
NewsClick, established in 2009, is an independent news and current affairs website known for its critical stance toward the government. In 2021, it faced a raid by tax authorities over allegations of violating India’s foreign direct investment rules.
Among those reportedly subjected to raids on Tuesday were Prabir Purkayastha, the website’s editor, as well as journalists Abhisar Sharma, Aunindyo Chakravarty, and Bhasha Singh. Popular satirist Sanjay Rajoura and historian Sohail Hashmi were also targeted. Some of these individuals were taken to police stations for questioning.
While the police have yet to comment on the raids, journalist Abhisar Sharma confirmed the development on social media, stating that the police had confiscated his phone and laptop. Bhasha Singh similarly reported that her phone had been seized.
Simultaneously, searches were underway at NewsClick’s office in Delhi, according to reports. Delhi Police spokesperson Suman Nalwa declined to provide a comment when approached by the BBC, promising to share details when available.
The raids are reportedly linked to a case registered against NewsClick in August, following a New York Times report alleging that the website had received funding from an American millionaire to propagate “Chinese propaganda.” The report claimed that Neville Roy Singham had collaborated closely with the “Chinese government media machine” and had utilized a network of non-profit groups and shell companies to finance global “propaganda.”
NewsClick has vehemently refuted all these allegations.
Sanjay Rajoura, known for his vocal criticism of the government, has previously created satirical content for NewsClick. His lawyer, Ilin Saraswat, stated that the police arrived at Rajoura’s residence at 06:30 local time on Tuesday and confiscated his laptop, two phones, DVDs of his previous work, and some documents. Although the police stated that Rajoura is not named in the current investigation, they indicated that he would be interrogated due to his association with the website.
In recent years, several media organizations in India have faced government investigations related to financial matters, raising concerns about the state of press freedom in the country. Reporters Without Borders has downgraded India’s press freedom ranking, citing a deterioration in the situation from “problematic” to “very bad.” This puts India in the company of countries like Tajikistan and Turkey, further highlighting the challenges facing journalists in the nation.