The Delhi Police has leveled a series of strong allegations against NewsClick, whose founder and HR head have been arrested under a stringent anti-terror law. Sources in the force claimed that the news portal received Rs 38 crore from entities linked to Chinese individuals and some of the money was shared with activists Gautam Navlakha and Teesta Setalvad, who are accused in other cases.
Days after a New York Times investigation alleged that the news portal had received money for pro-China propaganda, police on Tuesday conducted searches of journalists associated with NewsClick at more than 100 locations in Delhi-NCR and Mumbai.
Sources in the Delhi Police alleged that NewsClick received Rs 38 crore from entities allegedly linked to Chinese individuals and the money was used to influence pro-China content on the portal. They alleged that Rs 9 crore was received as foreign direct investment (FDI) through inflating share prices and Rs 29 crore was received as export service fees.
“No evidence has been provided by NewsClick of exporting services to foreign entities,” the source said.
The sources claimed that some of the funds raised by NewsClick were also shared with Gautam Navlakha and Teesta Setalavad.
Mr Navlakha was arrested in 2018 in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case and has been under arrest since then. In November last year, the Supreme Court had allowed the journalist-activist to be placed under house arrest due to his deteriorating health condition.
Mr Navlakha was one of several activists arrested in a case related to alleged inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017. Police alleged that these speeches led to violence at a rally in near the Koregaon-Bhima war. memorial near the town.
Teesta Setalavad was arrested in June 2022 along with former Gujarat police chief RB Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for allegedly using her close associates and riot victims to file ‘false and fabricated affidavits in the Supreme Court with the intention to dethrone the establishment and tarnish the image of the establishment and the then Prime Minister.”
In July this year, she was granted bail by the High Court. The court had questioned the motives and timing of Ms Setalvad’s arrest and said it considered the case against her suspicious.
NewsClick has not yet responded to these allegations.
According to the sources, 46 people associated with NewsClick are under investigation by agencies. “A total of 37 male suspects were interrogated on the spot, nine female suspects were interrogated at their respective places of residence and digital devices, documents etc. were seized/collected for investigation. The procedure is still ongoing; So far, two suspects have been arrested – NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty,” a source said.
A statement from the Editors Guild of India said: “EGI is concerned that these raids are yet another attempt to muzzle the media. While we recognize that the law must take its course when there are actual violations, due process must be followed. The investigation of specific crimes should not create a general atmosphere of intimidation in the shadow of draconian laws, or infringe on freedom of expression and the elevation of dissenting and critical voices.”
Opposition parties have criticized the government for the raids. “The parties of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) strongly condemn the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s new attack on the media. We stand firmly with the media and support the constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and expression,” said a joint statement from the Indian government. said block.
However, the government has said it does not have to justify the agencies’ actions. “If anyone has done anything wrong, investigating agencies are free to conduct investigation against them as per laid guidelines,” Union Minister Anurag Thakur said.