NewsClick founder, HR head sent to 7-day police remand after sweeping raids | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NewsClick founder, HR head sent to 7-day police remand after sweeping raids

Oct 04, 2023 09:30 AM IST

The raids and arrest sparked a controversy, with Opposition parties accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to muzzle the press.

NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and another person linked to the online portal were sent to seven-day police custody, a day after they were arrested in a case reportedly connected to alleged Chinese funding.

Delhi Police Special cell arrested Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsClick Prabir Purkayastha on Tuesday, October 3, 2023. (Photo by Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)
Delhi Police Special cell arrested Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsClick Prabir Purkayastha on Tuesday, October 3, 2023. (Photo by Raj K Raj/ Hindustan Times)

The Delhi Police on Tuesday conducted sweeping raids on journalists, freelancers, writers and satirists linked to NewsClick, an English news website facing scrutiny over allegations it was receiving foreign funding.

Among those questioned were journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta as well as historian Sohail Hashmi, satirist Sanjay Rajoura and D Raghunandan of the Centre for Technology & Development.

Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty were later arrested in connection with a case registered by the special cell this August under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act following a report by The New York Times. Both were produced before a court which remanded them in police custody.

Founded in 2009, NewsClick first ran into trouble in 2021, when ED registered a case based on an FIR registered by Delhi Police’s Economic Offence Wing in 2020. Allegations in the FIR included overvaluing of shares, diverting funds, and violation of FDI regulations.

The NYT in August reported that NewsClick was financed by US millionaire Neville Roy Singham, saying it "sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points" -- claims Singham rejected.

"We have found some e-mails exchanged between Puryakastha and Neville Roy Singham, which were aimed to tarnish India’s image at the international level,” a senior Delhi Police officer told HT.

The developments stoked a political controversy with the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of muzzling the press.

The raids were condemned by press bodies.

“EGI is concerned that these raids are yet another attempt to muzzle the media. While we recognise that the law must take its course if actual offences are involved, due process must be followed. The investigation of specific offences must not create a general atmosphere of intimidation under the shadow of draconian laws, or impinge on freedom of expression and the raising of dissenting and critical voices,” the Editors Guild of India said.

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