New Delhi, TNI Bureau: In a shocking turn of events, Prabir Purkayastha, the founder of the news portal ‘NewsClick’, and Amit Chakravarty, the HR head, have been arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. This development comes just days after a New York Times investigation alleged that ‘NewsClick’ had received funding from a network associated with promoting Chinese propaganda.
Early morning raids were conducted at approximately 20 locations across Delhi-NCR and Mumbai, targeting journalists connected to ‘NewsClick’. The series of events has sparked outrage, with many opposition voices labeling it as a “crackdown on press freedom.”
A source from the Delhi Police revealed that a total of 37 male suspects and 9 female suspects were questioned at their premises, and digital devices and documents were seized for further examination. As of now, two individuals, Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, have been arrested, while the investigation continues.
The Delhi Police’s allegations are centered on the claim that NewsClick received a substantial sum of nearly ₹38 crore from entities believed to have links to China. According to police sources, these funds were purportedly used to influence content on the website in favor of China. Specifically, ₹29 crore was allegedly received as fees for export services, and ₹9 crore came in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI), with share prices being artificially inflated.
Further complicating matters, it is alleged that some of these funds were also shared with activists Teesta Setalvad and Gautam Navlakha.
In the wake of these developments, the Editors Guild of India, a non-profit organization representing journalists, has urged the government to uphold due process and avoid using draconian criminal laws as tools for press intimidation. The Guild expressed concern that while genuine offenses should be investigated, the process must not create an atmosphere of intimidation or impede freedom of expression and dissent.
Meanwhile, journalists and commentators associated with NewsClick who were subjected to the Delhi police’s raids have shared their experiences. Veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta was seen disclosing in a viral video that he was questioned about seemingly unrelated matters, including whether he called a US number belonging to his brother-in-law and his use of the Signal messaging app. He was also asked about his coverage of the 2020 Delhi riots and the farmers’ protests.