Journalists and employees linked to NewsClick had their houses raided by Delhi Police Special Cell amid alleged Chinese links, reports emerged on Tuesday.
According to reports, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police carried out a large scale raid at over 30 locations in Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad. A case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was also registered in this regard.
During the raid, the police team seized electronic evidence including laptops, mobile phones and took data dumps of hard disks. The searches by the Delhi Police are based on the input shared by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), indicating unlawful activities by the suspects.
Notably, an investigation by ED had revealed fraudulent infusion of foreign fund of Rs 38.05 crore during a short span of three years. The scrutiny of the evidence by the ED revealed questionable infusion of foreign inward remittance of Rs 9.59 crore by way of FDI and Rs 28.46 crore by way of export of services.
It is learned that the funds received were distributed to several controversial journalists, including Gautam Navlakha and associates of Teestha Setalvad. Details regarding China link were also shared by the ED with Delhi Police.
According to a government source as quoted by a national media outlet, “It is about sovereignty of India and not about freedom of speech. An investigation by The New York Times had also reported that Indian news portal NewsClick is among organisations funded by a network tied to US millionaire Neville Roy Singham for pushing Chinese propaganda.”
He further called NewsClick funding push by China “an assault on the sovereignty of India”. He added, “The manner of routing of funds and transfer clearly points out to electronic evidences. Large sum of money has been transferred electronically and have been routed further into the system. Payouts have been made to so-called journalist to spread Chinese propaganda. At this stage it is important to secure the evidence and to go to the root of the matter.”
The ED had registered a case against the news portal, alleging that NewsClick received foreign funding in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The agency had also alleged that the money was used for anti-national activities.
The central probe agency’s action against digital news website NewsClick -- first against any media firm -- uncovered the alleged involvement of the site in peddling pro-China information in a news format.
As per reports, in the probe, the agency found a series of email exchanges between ewsclick Director Prabir Purkayastha with various journalists along with millionaire Neville Roy Singham, and CPI(M) leaders like Prakash Karat.
The ED said that Neville Roy Singham, who stays in China, gave NewClick Rs 38 crore illegally to peddle pro-China information in India.