NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha arrested under UAPA after day-long raids

However, not all those raided today seem directly or indirectly associated with NewsClick—amongst them historian Sohail Hashmi, science writer D Raghunandan and cartoonist Irfan Khan

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, who was arrested today by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police after questioning (photo: IANS)
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, who was arrested today by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police after questioning (photo: IANS)

NH Political Bureau

The Delhi Police on Tuesday, October 3, arrested two NewsClick employees — editor Prabir Purkayastha and accountant Amit Chakravarty — under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) after having raided 46 journalists and commentators, including nine women associated with the news portal.

They have sealed the NewsClick office too.

Purkayastha was first taken to the NewsClick office from his home, and then to the Special Cell headquarters.

The raids began early in the morning, and the homes of 37 men and nine women were raided in connection with FIR number 224/2023. Several men were taken to the Delhi Police's Special Cell office on Lodhi Road. Devices were confiscated from all those whose homes were raided, including past employees of and contributors to NewsClick.

The case registered against NewsClick was filed on 17 August 2023.

The FIR invokes several sections (13, 16, 17, 18, and 22) of the 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.

Reportedly, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had shared a few details with the Delhi Police, following which the Special Cell began conducting raids on the basis of the ED inputs. The current case purportedly has its roots in an August report by the New York Times.

Though there has been no official statement, the ED officials reached the homes of NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha, writer Githa Hariharan, NewsClick journalists Subodh Varma and Aditi Nigam, video journalists Abhisar Sharma, senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, freelancer Bhasha Singh and veteran journalist Urmilesh. All their devices have been seized.

Senior editor Subodh Varma was taken away for interrogation and released only by 7 p.m. in the evening.

The Special Cell also raided on this same day the houses of historian Sohail Hashmi, who is not related to NewsClick's journalistic operations, and that of a writer associated with the Delhi Science Forum, D Raghunandan.

Homes of commentator on political economy Aunindyo Chakravarty, stand-up comic Sanjay Rajaura, former NewsClick managing editor Pranjal, and NewsClick contributors Satyam Tiwari, Anuradha Raman and Sumedha Pal were raided too.

The police did not provide a hash value to any of the persons whose devices were seized. (A hash value details how much of data is on a digital device at the time of its seizure, so that any possible tampering is obviated.)

The home of activist Teesta Setalvad in Mumbai was also raided by Delhi Police officers. She is the director of think tank Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Urmilesh and Chakravarty were allowed to leave the Special Cell office at around 4 p.m., Raghunandan at 5 p.m. and Abhisar Sharma around 6 p.m. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta was released around 6:30 p.m. and Subodh Varma was also released around 7 p.m. Others who were also released include Bappaditya Sinha, Satyam Tiwari and Prabir Purkayastha’s son Pratik.

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