Delhi Police today registered a case against NewsClick under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and searched the homes of several journalists associated with the news portal. This comes amid allegations that the news portal had received funding from China.
The searches were conducted by officers from the Special Cell of Delhi Police. No arrests have been made so far, but sources said some journalists have been taken to police stations for questioning.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate had registered a case against the news portal and investigated its funding. The central agency had also attached some assets linked to the news portal.
It is not yet clear if Delhi Police have registered a fresh case under which today’s searches are being carried out. Police sources said more information about the searches will be shared later.
In August, a New York Times investigation had alleged that NewsClick is among organisations that were funded by a network linked to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham that pushes Chinese propaganda.
The news portal and its sources of funding came under the scanner back in 2021, when the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police filed a case against it. The Enforcement Directorate case was based on this case. The Delhi High Court gave NewsClick promoters protection from arrest, and the matter is now in court.
The news portal’s offices were also searched by Income Tax officers in 2021 in an alleged tax evasion case.
NewsClick’s editor Prabir Purakayastha had then hit out at the crackdown against the news portal. “These investigations by various agencies, and these selective allegations, are attempts to stifle the independent journalism of media organisations – including NewsClick. The Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(a) guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression, a right central to our work,” he had said.
Following the New York Times report in August, Mr Purkayastha had told The Indian Express. “These are not new allegations. They have been made in the past. We will respond to them in the appropriate forum, i.e. the court, as the matter is sub judice.”