Delhi police find NewsClick editor’s friendship with activist Navlakha to link arrest with Maoiststext_fields
New Delhi: After having charged cases under the UAPA against Prabir Purkayastha, the founder and editor-in-chief of the news portal NewsClick, the Delhi police found the friendship between Purkayastha and rights activist Gautam Navlakha to justify their actions. Navlakha is currently under house arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist link case.
The FIR filed against Purkayastha and with the portal’s administrative officer, Amit Chakraborty, alleges that “foreign funds in crores have been infused illegally in India by Indian and foreign entities inimical to India.” It claims that fraudulent funds amounting to crores of rupees were received through illegal means, including from M/s Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, USA.
The application further alleges that the accused were in direct contact, discussing how to create a new map of India without Kashmir and to portray Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed area.
The remand application contends that the accused aimed to create disaffection among various sections of society as part of a larger conspiracy. It accuses them of attempting to disrupt essential supplies and services, damage and destruction of property through illegal foreign funding, and creating a false narrative to discredit the government's COVID-19 management.
The Special Cell has obtained custody of the duo for 7 days, citing their involvement in the alleged receipt of funds since 2018 from three different entities. According to the FIR, two of these entities are linked to US-based businessman Neville Roy Singham, and the third is associated with Singham's wife's NGO. Earlier this year, The New York Times had implicated NewsClick in receiving funds from a network tied to Singham, alleging the propagation of Chinese propaganda globally.
The investigation stems from a case registered by the Enforcement Directorate on August 14 against PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd. The ED had conducted searches at NewsClick’s premises in February 2021, probing foreign remittances allegedly received between 2018 and 2021. The FIR, registered in August, emphasizes the friendship between Purkayastha and Navlakha since 1991.
Gautam Navlakha, identified as a shareholder in NewsClick since its inception in 2018, is accused of being involved in anti-Indian and unlawful activities, actively supporting banned Naxal organizations, and having an anti-national nexus.
NewsClick, in response to the allegations, released a statement vehemently denying any connection with Chinese entities or authorities, or the propagation of Chinese propaganda. The news portal asserted that all funding received has been through appropriate banking channels, reported to relevant authorities as required by law and substantiated by the Reserve Bank of India.
The Special Cell's line of questioning during the raids, particularly concerning NewsClick’s coverage of the Delhi riots and farmers' protests, has raised concerns about the motivations behind the proceedings. NewsClick expressed faith in the judicial process, calling the actions of the Special Cell motivated and malicious.
In a sweeping move, over 200 police personnel raided the homes of journalists and individuals associated with NewsClick in Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Mumbai. More than 50 homes and offices were raided, and 46 journalists and activists were detained for questioning.
The news portal's office in South Delhi was sealed, and electronic devices were confiscated by the police. The developments have sparked concerns about press freedom and the autonomy of media organizations in the country. The unfolding events are sure to fuel a broader debate on the delicate balance between national security concerns and the protection of democratic values.