A news outlet came on the government’s radar after a New York Times report linked it to Chinese propaganda
New Delhi police have raided multiple locations related to the media outlet NewClick and accused its journalists and associates of “conspiring to peddle a narrative that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories,” Indian media reported on Thursday.
The accusations come days after raids were conducted at 95 locations linked to the outlet. The police action was widely seen as a consequence of the outlet appearing in a New York Times report in August suggesting that NewsClick received funds from “socialist” millionaire Neville Roy Singham whose networks, the newspaper claimed, pushed “pro-China propaganda.” Newsclick has denied the allegations.
In their remand application, quoted by the news agency PTI, Delhi police said that “analysis of emails” shows that Prabir Purkayastha, the founder-editor of the organization, and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty had been in touch with Singham and were “found to be discussing how to create a map of India without Kashmir and to show Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed area.”
The Delhi police alleged a conspiracy “to peddle a narrative, both globally and domestically, that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories,” adding that it undermines the “unity and territorial integrity” of India. The accused received more than 1,150 million rupees (nearly $14 million) “to achieve this objective,” added the application. Police further alleged that foreign funds were siphoned off by Purkayastha and his associates, who have also been accused of protracting India’s farmers’ protest through “illegal foreign funding.”
On Tuesday, Purkayastha and Chakravarty, were arrested in a case filed under India’s stringent anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Police have also sealed the office of NewsClick and questioned 46 suspects amid a probe into its funding. They have also been accused of “discrediting the Indian government’s efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic” and of “sabotaging” India’s last general election in 2019.
#WATCH | Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsClick Prabir Purkayastha brought to Delhi Police Special Cell office.
Delhi Police is conducting raids at different premises linked to NewsClick under UAPA and other sections. pic.twitter.com/rDZEqZGn0zADVERTISEMENT
— ANI (@ANI) October 3, 2023
In a statement issued on Wednesday, NewClick reiterated that it did not propagate Chinese propaganda on its website, calling the NYT report “bogus.” The outlet also pointed out that it has been on several central investigation agencies’ radars since 2021 – including that of the Enforcement Directorate, the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police, and the Income Tax Department. On its website, the 2009-founded NewsClick calls itself “an independent media organization dedicated to covering news from India and elsewhere with a focus on progressive movements.” It has a substantial following on social media – on YouTube alone it had 3.9 million subscribers.
Journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who was questioned by police but then released, said a team of 100 Delhi police personnel took action against dozens of journalists, academics, political activists, social activists, and also rookie journalists, associated with the media organization. “Even those who just wrote an article for the site found themselves visited by the police.”
Thakurta stressed that the FIR (First Information Report), a document which forms the basis of a police investigation anywhere in India, was filed on August 17. “Why did it take them one and a half months to conduct these raids?” he asked, calling the FIR “ludicrous.”
Presumably the FIR was prepared on the basis of the NYT story. When asked about it, Thakurta said “he had no idea” how the story appeared. “The NYT does not indicate that Neville committed any crime. It just says his office has a close association with the Chinese Communist Party, which is not a crime in the US. He has not broken any law.”
October 06, 2023 at 06:50AM