New Delhi: The Delhi Police Special Cell raided the houses of journalists and employees of the media outlet NewsClick in connection with allegations that the organisation received funding from China.
The Special Cell of Delhi Police on October 4 arrested NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha, and HR head Amit Chakravarty under anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
They were produced before a Delhi court at night where they were remanded to seven days of police custody. In a statement, the Delhi Police said that a total of 37 male suspects have been questioned at premises, including nine female suspects at their respective places of stay.
The police said that digital devices, documents, etc., have been seized or collected for examination. It also sealed the office of NewsClick in New Delhi. The operation spanned over more than 30 locations in Noida, Delhi, Mumbai among others, targeting NewsClick and its journalists.
A contingent of over 200 officials from various units of the Delhi Police Special Cell participated in the operation, according to sources. Journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, along with historian Sohail Hashmi, were subsequently released in the evening after extensive inquiries for hours.
During the questioning at the Special Cell police station, the police presented them with a list of 25 inquiries encompassing various topics, such as their international trips, involvement in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, and participation in the farmers’ agitation, as per sources.
Media organisations write to CJI after raids
Journalists from across the country led protests against the Delhi Police crackdown on NewsClick. Prominent media groups also penned a joint letter to Chief Justice DY Chandrachud calling for the apex court to take ‘cognizance and intervene’ of the matter
The letter went on to outline the raids and consequent arrests, dubbing the invocation of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act “especially chilling”. Journalism, they insisted, could not be prosecuted as ‘terrorism’.
“…intimidation of the media affects the democratic fabric of society. And subjecting journalists to a concentrated criminal process because the government disapproves of their coverage of national and international affairs is an attempt to chill the press by threat of reprisal — the very ingredient you identified as a threat to freedom,” the letter said.