Journalists in the National Capital Territory of Delhi woke up Tuesday morning with a shocking news of multiple raids on senior scribes associated with the news portal Newsclick dot com by the Special Cell of Delhi Police. These simultaneous raids have been reported in connection with the ongoing investigation in the alleged foreign funding of Newsclick.
Raided senior scribes include Urmilesh, a resident of Vasundhara, Ghaziabad who produces and anchors a show for the portal; Abhisar Sharma, ex-NDTV and anchoring a show for Newsclick; Bhasha Singh, senior reporter; Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, senior columnist and writer who has previously been framed in a false case related to industrialist Adani when he was working with Economic and Political Weekly; Sohail Hashmi, a renowned cultural activist and heritage conservationist; with the chief of Newsclick Prabir Purkayastha, his wife Geeta Hariharan, Subodh Verma, Anindyo Chakraborty and others.
Police also raided the house of Teesta Setalvad in Mumbai, who is a Director in a company related to Purkayastha and Newsclick. There are reports of a scientist and writer associated with the Delhi Science Forum, D. Raghunandan taken away by the police too.
It has been reported that the police has seized electronic devices of all raided persons and has detained four of them i.e. Urmilesh, Prabir, Anindyo and Abhisar. They have been taken to Lodhi Road Special Cell office in Delhi.
It is not clear whether these raids were categorically related to the foreign funding of Newsclick bcause the policemen, eight in number, that appeared in the premises of Urmilesh were talking of UAPA. UAPA is Unlawful Activities Prevention Act that prima facie does not apply on a working journalist until and unless he has done some unlawful activity.
पत्रकार उर्मिलेश को ले जाती दिल्ली पुलिस pic.twitter.com/v486nEPrNV— Anurag Chaturvedi (@AnuragC1106) October 3, 2023
Talking to CAAJ, a senior reporter who was present at the house of Urmilesh told that when he asked the policemen under what charges they are here, the cited UAPA. He told CAAJ, “They had no warrant and they kept searching for books, papers and documents. They seized some books and left for Lodhi Road with Urmilesh”.
Abhisar Sharma and Bhasha Singh were fortunate they could access social media before their phones were seized. Both precisely posted that police have landed in their premises and were seizing laptop and mobile phones.
As per a Wire report, these raids are in connection with “FIR number 224/2023. This case was filed on August 17, 2023, and invokes several sections (13, 16, 17, 18, and 22) of the draconian UAPA, along with 153(a) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 120 (b) (party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence) of the Indian Penal Code”. Although nothing has been officially stated so far.
Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and Phone...— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) October 3, 2023
A journalist associated with Newsclick Aritry Das has written:
Delhi Police barged into my home at 6 am. Took my laptop, phone, hard disks etc. Questioned about the reporting I have done. This is in link with UAPA case against NewsClick. Great time to be a journo.
A comic and satirist Sanjay Rajaura has also been raided Tuesday morning. His phone and laptop have also been seized.
Press Club of India and NWMI (Network of Women in Media in India) have issued initial statements condemning the police act.
The Press Club of India is deeply concerned about the multiple raids conducted on the houses of journalists and writers associated with #Newsclick.— Press Club of India (@PCITweets) October 3, 2023
We are monitoring the developments and will be releasing a detailed statement.