NewsClick founder part of ploy to rupture India’s tenets: Charge sheet | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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NewsClick founder part of ploy to rupture India’s tenets: Charge sheet

By, New Delhi
May 03, 2024 07:40 AM IST

The police made the claims in an 8,000-page document against Purkayastha, the founder and editor-in-chief of the news portal, and company PPK NewsClick Studio Pvt. Ltd

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha was a “subscriber of ultra-left ideology” and was trying to mobilise the masses on various issues to “keep hammering and nailing the corpus of India”, Delhi Police has said in its charge sheet in the case.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell on October 3 last year (PTI)
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell on October 3 last year (PTI)

Purkayastha, who was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell on October 3 last year under provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), was also a part of an alleged conspiracy to “disrupt and rupture” all aspects of India, police added, citing discussions over emails on topics such as “communism”, “issues for the working class”, issues in “neo-liberal era”, “Hezbollah”, “separatist movements” and capitalism.

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The police made the claims in an 8,000-page document against Purkayastha, the founder and editor-in-chief of the news portal, and company PPK NewsClick Studio Pvt. Ltd, which owns the portal and has also been named as an accused in the case.

Both Purkayastha and head of human resources of the news portal, Amit Chakravorty, were arrested in October for allegedly being a part of a conspiracy to disrupt India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, cause disaffection and threaten the country’s unity and integrity.

NewsClick dismissed the police charge sheet as “absurd and baseless”, and said the allegations were part of an attempt to silence its independent journalism.

The arrests came after an investigation published in The New York Times alleged that the portal was part of a global network that received money for pushing Chinese propaganda. The American newspaper said that Shanghai-based businessman Neville Roy Singham funded NewsClick, among other outlets across the globe, to sprinkle its coverage with Chinese government talking points.

Chakravorty later turned an approver in the case and has been named as a “witness” in the charge sheet. A Delhi court took cognisance of the charge sheet on Tuesday.

In its charge sheet, reviewed by HT, police claimed that emails exchanged between Purkayastha, Singham and some others “demonstrate the evolution of a deep-rooted conspiracy which eventually manifested itself in several overt acts aimed at disrupting every aspect of State apparatus ordained by the Constitution of India”.

“The conspirators, subscribers of ultra-left ideology and practice, aimed at mass mobilization on different, independent issues only to keep hammering and nailing the corpus of India, whenever and wherever they could, to achieve their larger objectives i.e., weakening, destabilising, decimation and ultimate disintegration,” police said.

Police added that the “larger conspiracy” began in 2016 with an intent to spread misinformation and promote Chinese propaganda.

The charge sheet also mentions an alleged influx of funds from various entities under Singham to Purkayastha. Police said that from 2018 to 2021, Purkayastha received close to 10 crore as a “consultant”.

Activists Gautam Navlakha, Teesta Setalvad and Harsh Mander have also been named in the charge sheet. The police have accused Navlakha and Purkayastha of funding Pakistan-based terror organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba and Left Wing Extremists (LWE) and distributing cash among “rioters” during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.

The charge sheet also said that employees of NewsClick “physically participated” in the Chakka Jam and were members of Delhi Protest Solidarity Group.

On CPI (Maoist)’s alleged links with Purkayastha, police said they recovered “incriminating literature” such as a poster showing five people with the message of ‘Long Live The Invincible Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought’ in Chinese, and books including ‘Structures of Violence’ by International Peoples’ Tribunal, Sahba Hussain’s ‘Love, Loss, and Longing in Kashmir’ and Navlakha’s ‘War and Politics’. Police said the recoveries were made from a person who later on became a “protected witness”.

While Navlakha could not be contacted, his partner Sahba Hussain said they are yet to get a copy of the charge sheet and will respond accordingly.

“NewsClick has no links with the Maoists or any other terrorist organisation.We follow all relevant Indian laws in the course of our business dealings, and in particular, with respect to the receipt of foreign funds. All funding received by NewsClick has been through the appropriate banking channels and has been reported to the relevant authorities. This has been confirmed by the Reserve Bank of India to the Economic Offences Wing in proceedings before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi,” the company said in a statement.

“All the UAPA charges levelled against NewsClick and its Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha are completely bogus and untenable. NewsClick and Prabir have neither been involved in any terrorist act nor any conspiracy. These allegations and the persecution of NewsClick are an attempt to silence our independent journalism,” it added.

The charge sheet has also accused Teesta Setlavad’s Sabrang employees of getting their salaries from NewsClick. Police said this was after her trust lost its FCRA license.

“Teesta was funded with the directions that she would spend the money to spread communal agenda and disharmony in society through her NGO Sabrang, her husband and others. Payments were made to her husband Javed Anand, daughter Tamara, her son Jibran, and other staff members from NewsClick but they worked for Sabrang,” the statement reads.

A protected witness, GAMA 2, named seven-eight people and said that they worked with Sabrang but received salaries from NewsClick. NewsClick responded to this saying “payments made by NewsClick were for journalistic work which is in the public domain.”

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