Delhi Police on Tuesday conducted raids at the residences of a number of journalists linked to a news website Newsclick and reportedly seized their mobile phones and computers.
The raids were conducted by Delhi Police’s Special Cell, a unit which deals with terrorism and separatism cases.
“Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and Phone,” journalist Abhisar Sharma posted on X, formerly Twitter in the morning.
Around the same time, another journalist Bhasha Singh posted on X, “Finally last tweet from this phone. Delhi police seizure (seizing) my phone.”
They did not give any more information and neither did the Delhi Police state anything on the record.
However, it is believed that the raids were conducted in connection with allegations that Newsclick and certain journalists linked to the portal had received money from a China-linked activist for the purpose of hurting India’s sovereignty.
In August, The New York Times had claimed some organisations including Newsclick were funded by American millionaire Neville Roy Singham’s global network that purportedly pushes Chinese propaganda.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, when asked by reporters in Bhubaneswar about the raids, said, “I don’t need to justify… if anyone has committed anything wrong, search agencies are free to carry out investigations under set guidelines.”
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) criticised the raids, terming it as “a huge attack on the fourth pillar of democracy”.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh posted on the party’s X (formerly Twitter) handle: “This is a huge attack on the fourth pillar of democracy, against journalism.”
The Editors Guild of India said it is “concerned that these raids are yet another attempt to muzzle the media”.
In a statement, it said, “The raids are reportedly being conducted in connection with an FIR filed under the draconian UAPA and laws relating to criminal conspiracy and disruption of communal harmony against journalists, including those associated with the website Newsclick.in.”
It said “Their laptops, mobile phones and other devices have been seized. Senior journalists have been taken into custody by the Delhi Police, allegedly for ‘questioning.’ Media reports suggest that the raids have been widespread.”
The Guild added, “While we recognise that the law must take its course if actual offences are involved, the due process has to be followed. The investigation of specific offences must not create a general atmosphere of intimidation under the shadow of draconian laws, or impinge on the freedom of expression and the raising of dissenting and critical voices.
“We remind the government of the importance of an independent media in a functioning democracy, and urge it to ensure that the fourth pillar is respected, nurtured and protected.”