Probe agencies are independent, says Anurag Thakur on police raids on NewsClick
Congress leader Pawan Khera said the NewsClick raids were conducted to distract attention from the “explosive findings of caste census in Bihar”
BHUBANESWAR/NEW DELHI: Investigating agencies in the country are independent and are free to act against those violating the law, union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur said on Tuesday after the Delhi Police carried out raids at the premises of several journalists in Delhi in connection with its probe into the web portal, NewsClick.
“I don’t need to justify it,” Thakur told reporters at a news conference in Bhubaneswar.
“If someone has committed any wrong, investigating agencies do act on them. Nowhere it is written that if you have wrongfully acquired wealth and committed offence, the investigating agencies would not take action,” Thakur told reporters at a press meet when asked if he justified government action with regards to raids on journalists.
“Investigating agencies are independent. They act according to law,” he added.
Thakur’s defence of the raids by the Delhi Police’s special cell at locations linked to the news portal and its journalists comes amid sharp criticism of the police action by opposition parties.
Congress MP Pramod Tiwari condemned the raids, saying his party stands in support of free journalism. “I feel that dictatorship has come... This is a message from the BJP to all the journalists,” Tiwari said.
Senior Congress leader Pawan Khera suggested that the raids were an attempt to distract attention from the Bihar caste survey and the demand for a nationwide census.
“The early morning raids on contributing journalists at Newsclick comes as fresh distraction from the explosive findings of caste census in Bihar and the growing demand for caste census across the country. When he faces questions from out of syllabus, he resorts to the only counter he has in his predictable syllabus - DISTRACTION,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.
There has been no formal word from the Delhi Police on the case against the news portal or Tuesday’s raids.
News agency ANI said the raids, which started early Tuesday morning, are based on a case registered on August 17 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Section 153A (promoting enmity between two groups), 120B (criminal conspiracy).
Already, the portal is being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on money laundering charges. According to the FIR, the petitioner company, PPK Newsclick Studio Private Limited, received foreign direct investment (FDI) to the tune of ₹9.59 crore from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC USA during 2018-19.
It alleged that the investment was made by greatly overvaluing the shares of the petitioner company to avoid the 26 per cent FDI cap in a digital news website.
In 2021, the Delhi high court barred the federal agency from taking any coercive action against NewsClick and its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha. ED’s request to the high court to vacate its order hasn’t been decided yet.
The news portal was again at the centre of a row in August after a New York Times report claimed that NewsClick was part of a global network that received funding from American billionaire Neville Roy Singham, who allegedly works closely with the Chinese government media machine. NewsClick rebutted the claim, saying the allegations “by certain political actors and sections of the media are unfounded and without basis in fact or law”.