The Delhi Police Special Cell has been reported conducting a series of raids at the residences of journalists and individuals connected to the Delhi-based news outlet NewsClick since Tuesday(October 3) morning.
These coordinated raids across more than 30 locations across the Delhi NCR come in the wake of allegations of the news outlet's links to Chinese funding and money laundering. The raids are ongoing, reportedly, with multiple agencies involved in this operation.
As of now, no journalists have been arrested but a few of them have been seen in Lodhi Road Special Cell office for interrogations, including Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha.
- The Delhi Police Special Cell, with over 30 search warrants carried out raids at multiple locations in Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad, and seized electronic evidence such as laptops, mobile phones, and data dumps of hard disks from journalists associated with NewsClick.
- These raids are being carried out after an FIR was registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), based on fresh inputs from the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
- The ED's investigation had reported the alleged infusion of foreign funds of Rs 38.05 crore over a short span of three years.
- The scrutiny of evidence suggested a questionable inflow of foreign funds, including Rs 9.59 crore through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Rs 28.46 crore via export of services.
- The funds were reportedly distributed to several journalists and individuals, including Gautam Navlakha and the associates of Teesta Setalvad.
The Press Club of India has condemned by action, saying, "We are monitoring the developments and will be releasing a detailed statement".
- This recent action by the Delhi Police comes after previous searches by the ED in February 2021, which were related to allegations of money laundering and receipt of Rs 38 crore from a US-based entity with links to China.
- While the Delhi High Court had directed the ED not to take forceful action against NewsClick and its director in this case, the ED, reportedly continued its investigations.
- In August 2021, the Delhi High Court asked NewsClick and its editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha to respond to a plea by the ED seeking to overturn the earlier order that granted them protection from coercive action in the money laundering case.
- The Central Government and its senior Ministers and MPs had repeatedly pointed to The New York Times report, which brought forward these funding connections between Chinese firms and NewsClick.
- Their allegations basically revolved around how funding was used to create an "anti-India" atmosphere.
- Union Minister Anurag Thakur said the links between NewsClick's funding network, Neville Roy Singham, and the Chinese Communist Party's propaganda arm.
- Information Technology Minister Rajeev Chandrashekhar pointed out that NewsClick was driving anti-India narratives as well.
Who is Neville Roy Singham?
- According to the New York Times report, American billionaire Neville Roy Singham, 69, who is said to stay in Shanghai, China is also a crucial part of the complex web of Chinese-linked funding.
- Singham was reported to have close ties to the Chinese government's media machine and was accused of financing NewsClick to disseminate pro-China information in India.
- Additionally, the report alleged that Singham had connections with several American charities and non-profit organisations promoting his agenda.