Raid on NewsClick: Anurag Thakur reacts; Opposition questions Delhi Police
Delhi Police Raid NewsClick Office: Police are conducting raids at different premises linked to NewsClick under the UAPA and other sections, sources told ANI.
Several opposition parties hit out at the government after Delhi Police's special cell on Tuesday morning conducted raids on the premises of online portal NewsClick and its journalists. Information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur, however, said he does not need to justify the raids, adding that agencies are free to carry out probes if anyone has committed anything wrong.
"I don't need to justify... If anyone has committed anything wrong, search agencies are free to carry out investigations against them under set guidelines... Thakur told reporters.
Citing an investigation by The New York Times, Thakur recently claimed that the NewsClick's money trail revealed an “anti-India agenda”.
On Tuesday, officials said the special cell has registered a new case and started an investigation.
Delhi Police is conducting raids at different premises linked to NewsClick under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections, sources told news agency ANI.
The Enforcement Directorate had earlier conducted raids at the firm's premises probing its sources of funding. The special cell is now raiding the media firm on the basis of inputs provided by the central agency. Officials in the know told news agency PTI that police have recovered the dump data from laptops and mobile phones of some journalists of NewsClick.
Some journalists have been brought to the Lodhi Road Special Cell office, but no one has been arrested so far, they said.
Reacting to the development, The Press Club of India on X said it is deeply concerned about raids on the houses of journalists and writers associated with NewsClick.
"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.
"The PCI stands in solidarity with the journalists and demands the government to come out with details," it said.
RJD MP Manoj Jha described the raid as “the most unfortunate thing”. "Why are you calling them the Delhi Police? They are under Union home minister Amit Shah and nothing takes place without his consent... Those who deny to join their (BJP) 'Bhajan Mandali', they do like this against them... What are they trying to show from all these... This incident will be written in the history and this step of the government will cost them," Jha told news agency ANI.
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera alleged that the early morning raids on contributing journalists at Newsclick comes as a “fresh distraction from the explosive findings of caste census in Bihar” and the growing demand for caste census across the country.
“When he faces questions from out of syllabus, he resorts to the only counter he has in his predictable syllabus - DISTRACTION,” Khera added.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra wrote on social media X, “Senior journalists raided and taken for questioning. Their phones and laptops seized . New India takes the press seriously.”
Meanwhile, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury claimed that police came to his residence “because one of my companions who lives with me there, his son works for NewsClick”.
"Police came to question him. They took his laptop and phone. What are they investigating, nobody knows. If this is an attempt to try and muzzle the media, the country must know the reason behind this," he told ANI.
Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti alleged that during the raids telephone devices were forcibly snatched only for a fishing expedition.
"GOI claims India is the mother of democracy and about press freedom abroad yet in the same breath uses state agencies to crackdown on the remaining handful of independent media outlets. Even telephone devices have been forcibly snatched only for a fishing expedition. The repeated illegal pattern of arrest first & creating fake charges later is extremely perturbing," Mufti posted on X.
Earlier, Abhisar Sharma, a senior journalist, wrote on X, "Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and phone."
Another journalist, Bhasha Singh, wrote on X, "Finally last tweet from this phone. Delhi police seizure (sic) my phone."
In August, the Delhi high court sought the stand of NewsClick Founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha on a plea by the city police seeking vacation of an earlier order granting him interim protection from arrest in an unlawful foreign funding case.
The website recently hit the headlines for allegedly receiving money from US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for pro-China propaganda in India.
(With inputs from agencies)