NewsClick Controversy: Raids on Journalists and Suspected Links to China


On Tuesday, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police carried out searches at the residences of journalists and staff members affiliated with the Delhi-based news outlet NewsClick.

NewsClick Controversy Prabir Purkayastha Arrested

These searches were aimed at uncovering evidence related to economic offenses, particularly concerning the alleged connections between NewsClick and China. As a result, at least two journalists have been taken into custody.

NewsClick Founder Prabir Purkayastha Arrested

The searches were carried out at 30 different locations throughout the national capital, including the NewsClick office. This action was taken in connection to a case filed under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in August. These raids commenced early in the morning, around 6 am, targeting the residences of senior journalists.

The individuals affected include Prabir Purkayastha, the founder and editor of NewsClick, as well as Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Abhisar Sharma, Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakraborty, Bhasha Singh, satirist Sanjay Rajaura, and historian and activist Sohail Hashmi. It has also been reported that searches were conducted at the residence of journalist and activist Teesta Setalvad.

Founded in 2009, NewsClick is an independent media organization recognized for its critical reporting on the government. The recent raids are being widely perceived as an assault on press freedom. The Press Club of India has expressed deep concern regarding these searches conducted at the residences of journalists and writers associated with NewsClick.

NewsClick, in conjunction with American billionaire businessman Neville Roy Singham, has been in the spotlight since 2021 when the Enforcement Directorate implicated Singham in a money laundering case. The government alleged that they were promoting Chinese propaganda through the platform, accusations that the organization has refuted.

Singham, the founder of ‘ThoughtWorks,’ an IT consulting firm, is presently residing in Shanghai. He is alleged to have provided financial backing to NewsClick, which has fueled the controversy.

2021 Controversy

The Enforcement Directorate initiated its first investigation into NewsClick in 2021, prompted by the discovery of a collection of email exchanges between Singham and senior CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat during one of its raids. This investigation occurred at a time when NewsClick was actively covering the farmers’ protest.

Authorities alleged that Singham was the origin of the dubious funding amounting to Rs 38 crore, which was provided to an Indian news platform known as People’s Dispatch between 2018 and 2021. Reportedly, these funds were subsequently disbursed to journalists, including Gautam Navlakha, as well as associates of Teesta Setalvad.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had additionally indicated that Rs 9.59 crore was acquired through Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). The investigative agency characterized this as a complex scheme devised by Prabir, in collaboration with Neville Roy Singham, whom they alleged had ties to the Communist Party of China (CPC).

NewsClick has remained under the scrutiny of investigative agencies ever since.

The Report of NYT

In August of this year, The New York Times reported that corporate filings unveiled how Singham’s network, which provided financial backing to the news site, incorporated Chinese government messaging into its coverage to the extent of purportedly illustrating how “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes.”

“These groups collaborate closely, coordinating their efforts. They have cross-posted articles and extensively shared each other’s content on social media. There is significant overlap in their staff members and office spaces. They jointly organize events and conduct interviews with each other’s representatives, often without disclosing these affiliations,” it stated.

The report sparked a fresh controversy surrounding NewsClick, with Union Minister Anurag Thakur asserting that the money trail exposed an “anti-India agenda.” He also alleged a connection between the Congress party, NewsClick, and China, suggesting they are intertwined in an “umbilical cord.”

NewsClick had rebuffed the allegations, asserting that they were devoid of factual grounding and are presently sub judice. The company underscored its commitment to the legal proceedings and abstained from participating in any form of “media trial.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court had requested Prabir Purkayastha’s stance on a petition filed by the Delhi Police, seeking the removal of protection against arrest in the UAPA case. Following this, four media organizations issued a collective statement, voicing profound apprehension about what they termed a “witch-hunt” targeting the news website and its staff.

They emphasized that the portal published contributions from individuals known for their integrity and depth of knowledge. They also asserted that articles presenting critical yet appreciative viewpoints on other countries’ policies should not be misconstrued as advocacy on their behalf, nor should they be labeled as anti-national or seditious.

Comparable raids were carried out at the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices, prompted by the release of a two-part documentary in the UK that alleged Prime Minister Modi’s involvement in the 2002 Godhra riots. Additionally, Dainik Bhaskar’s office underwent a raid in 2021, which came in the wake of its coverage of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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(Disclaimer: Any information or fact written in this article is only for knowledge purpose, is not responsible for any error or any kind of mistake in the article)

Harsh Lahre has been a passionate blogger and content writer since 2020. Also, He's the author and the editor of this blog. He's dedicated to providing information related to Tech, Smartphones, Apps, Movies, and other stuff in form of blog posts.


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