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May 21, 2024
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Concerns mount over press freedom after Delhi police raids on journalists linked to Newsclick, Press Club of India deeply concerned

New Delhi: Delhi Police’s Special Cell conducted raids at the residences of several journalists associated with the news website NewsClick on Tuesday morning. The searches are under way.

According to the report, the Press Club of India issued a statement expressing deep concern over the raids and said, “The Press Club of India is deeply concerned about the multiple raids conducted on the houses of journalists and writers associated with NewsClick. We are monitoring the developments and will be releasing a detailed statement.” These raids come in the wake of allegations that NewsClick received funding from China, prompting the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to initiate an investigation”.

The Delhi Police has registered a case under various sections of UAPA and Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence) and 120B IPC (Criminal Conspiracy). The fresh case by Special Cell was registered on August 17.

However, as of now, there is no information regarding any arrests in connection with this case. The public eagerly awaits a response from the Delhi Police for further clarification.

Prominent journalist Abhisar Sharma took to Twitter to share the alarming news, and said, “Delhi Police has arrived at my house. They are confiscating my laptop and phone.” Such developments have raised concerns about the freedom of the press and the potential implications for journalism in India.

According to the News agency PTI Delhi Police Special Cell conducts raids at several locations linked to news portal ‘NewsClick’ in Delhi-NCR. NewsClick is alleged to have received dubious funds to spread Chinese propaganda. The allegation was levelled against the portal following a report in the New York Times.

While Journalist Bhasha Singh posted on social media, “Finally last tweet from this phone. Delhi police seizure my phone”.

The Enforcement Directorate had searched the premises linked to NewsClick in February 2021, in connection with a money laundering investigation into receipt of about Rs 38 crore from a U.S.-based entity having links in China, between 2018 and 2021, as alleged.

On June 21, 2021, the Delhi High Court had directed the ED not to take any coercive action against NewsClick and Purkayastha in connection with the money laundering case.

The FIR in the case alleged that PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd received Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of Rs 9.59 crore from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC USA during the financial year 2018-19. It claimed that the investment was made by greatly overvaluing the shares of the petitioner company to avoid the alleged cap of 26% of FDI in a digital news website. It further alleged that over 45% of this investment was diverted/siphoned off for the payment of salary/consultancy, rent and other expenses, which are alleged to have been made for ulterior motives.

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