Critics condemn Indian authority raids on NewsClick offices

Roger McKenzie(Morning Star) 3 October 2023

Critics of the Indian government have condemned raids carried out by authorities on the offices of the NewsClick website and the homes of several prominent journalists and authors today.

Officials said that the raids are part of an investigation into allegations that NewsClick was receiving illegal funds from China.

But critics have branded the move as an attack on press freedom by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Reporters’ mobiles and laptops were seized in the raid on properties in the Indian capital New Delhi.

This comes after Indian authorities carried out a similar operation at the BBC’s New Delhi and Mumbai offices over accusations of tax evasion back in February.

NewsClick is known as one of only a few news outlets in India that is willing to criticise Mr Modi and his government.

Indian authorities registered a case against the site and its journalists on August 17, weeks after a New York Times report alleged that the website had received funds from a US millionaire who it alleges funded the spread of “Chinese propaganda.”

NewsClick has denied the charges.

The case was filed under a draconian anti-terrorism law that allows charges for “anti-national activities” and has been used against activists, journalists and critics of Mr Modi.

Journalists Urmilesh, Bhasha Singh, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Abhisar Sharma, Prabir Purkayastha and Satyam Tiwari have been confirmed to have been detained.

Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Youth Affairs & Sports Anurag Thakur said: “I don’t need to justify the raids.”

Founding editor of The Wire in India Siddharth Varadarajan condemned the raids, saying they were aimed at “terrorising what remains of India’s free press.”

He told Mr Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah that “your bullying and intimidation will not work.”

Amnesty India said that it was concerned about the “use of draconian anti-terror laws” against the news outlet and its journalists.

The Digipub New India Foundation said that the raids were “another instance of the government’s pattern of arbitrary and intimidatory behaviour.”

The Press Club of India said in a statement on X: “We stand in solidarity with the journalists and demand the government to come out with details.”

Mr Modi’s administration has introduced laws that require government approval for any investments by companies from China and other countries that neighbour India.


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