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113 hours raiding multiple locations, it is still not clear why the ED is investigations Newsclick

Will continue to do what a news organisation should do… cover people’s issues… take positions: Prabir Purkayastha

Sabrangindia 15 Feb 2021

Newsclick
ED officials look through files at the office of Newsclick     Image courtesy: Tashi Tobgyal / Indian Express


After clocking around 113 hours, at multiple locations related to news portal Newsclick, the teams of the Enforcement Directorate eventually ended its physical raids, searches, and collected data from the residences of the proprietor-editor of the portal. It was only after the official end of the physical raids that NewsClick’s 73-year-old editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and 67-year-old author Githa Hariharan were allowed to step out of their South Delhi apartment for the first time. The veteran journalist and author spoke to reporters who were waiting outside their home at around 1.30 am on Sunday. They had been confined indoors since the raids began in the morning on February 9, Tuesday at the newsclick office and residences of the senior staff, the longest raid, as reported,  was at  Hariharan and Purkayastha’s home.

The Telegraph reported that after a team of around eight officers from tthe ED wound up the raid veteran journalist Purkayastha came out and thanked civil society and journalists for their solidarity, he said: “We are not interested in being the news, we want to cover what is happening, what the news is. And this (the raid) is something that we will take the way it is meant to be taken. This will not stop us. We will continue to do what a news organisation should do, which is cover people’s issues and take positions.” However, leave alone details of charges, allegations, the ED is yet to explain why the raid took so much or why the two senior citizens were confined indoors. Unsurprisingly, even till the 5th day, their lawyers did not know why the raid was happening. ‘The raid is going on. We have not had a chance to understand from the clients what has happened. In fact, the clients are also not aware of the entire details, what is the allegation and we don’t know exactly why we are being investigated,’ the lawyers said.”

According to the news report, two of their sons, who live elsewhere in the capital, “were allowed to visit under the supervision of the ED. Hariharan was allowed to attend an online literature festival on Saturday”.

It is known that the Patna High Court had stated in 2013, that tax raids cannot continue for longer than 36 hours. Yet, NewsClick employees tolerate continued searches amidst deteriorating health. Purkayastha suffers from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, while 67-year-old Hariharan has a heart ailment. Neither of them tested their health parameters since the raid began.

Purkayastha, shared that “ “It is one of the longest raids that I know of by the ED,” adding that it seemed that he had “lot of emails” as he has been using gmail since 2005, and it seems that there was too much data “to take down quickly.” The Telegraph reported that the ED officials had “been copying email and other electronic data from devices at the home since Thursday.”

These raids have been condemned by civil society, and also by Opposition parties and senior politicians such as former Union minister Yashwant Sinha who called out the mainstream media’s silence on the issue.

 

 

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has also issued a strong statement on Sunday, condemning these raids and the news leaks stating that it is an attempt “to disrupt the journalism that NewsClick is now renowned for: covering voices that do not feature in the mainstream media – whether it is tribal people displaced from the homes by so-called “development” projects or farmers out in protest in large numbers. It is evident that this was a ham-handed attempt to silence a media outlet that continued to feature stories that questioned the narrative the government wants to propagate, even as large sections of the media had surrendered.” These raids are a way of “ Weaponising the law by Criminalising Free Speech,” stated  PUCL.

However, the investigation process is still not over as the ED is likely to summon Purkayastha to its headquarters this week. According to the news report, a few NewsClick “shareholders and their families whose homes were searched have also faced tangential remarks or queries on their links to the CPM, the farmers’ protests, and jailed rights activist Gautam Navlakha who was associated with the website”. The organisation has been covering the news related to all of that extensively. NewsClick had already stated that certain news reports mentioned allegations of illegitimate financial transactions as “selective leak of misleading facts” and were a “malicious attempt to smear the image of Newsclick and discredit our journalism.”

 

Related

ED Raids & NewsClick: Weaponising law by Criminalising Free Speech

Where is India headed ?

85 hours and counting: Raid continues at NewsClick, editor's health deteriorates

85 hours and counting: Raid continues at NewsClick, editor's health deteriorates

113 hours raiding multiple locations, it is still not clear why the ED is investigations Newsclick

Will continue to do what a news organisation should do… cover people’s issues… take positions: Prabir Purkayastha

Newsclick
ED officials look through files at the office of Newsclick     Image courtesy: Tashi Tobgyal / Indian Express


After clocking around 113 hours, at multiple locations related to news portal Newsclick, the teams of the Enforcement Directorate eventually ended its physical raids, searches, and collected data from the residences of the proprietor-editor of the portal. It was only after the official end of the physical raids that NewsClick’s 73-year-old editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and 67-year-old author Githa Hariharan were allowed to step out of their South Delhi apartment for the first time. The veteran journalist and author spoke to reporters who were waiting outside their home at around 1.30 am on Sunday. They had been confined indoors since the raids began in the morning on February 9, Tuesday at the newsclick office and residences of the senior staff, the longest raid, as reported,  was at  Hariharan and Purkayastha’s home.

The Telegraph reported that after a team of around eight officers from tthe ED wound up the raid veteran journalist Purkayastha came out and thanked civil society and journalists for their solidarity, he said: “We are not interested in being the news, we want to cover what is happening, what the news is. And this (the raid) is something that we will take the way it is meant to be taken. This will not stop us. We will continue to do what a news organisation should do, which is cover people’s issues and take positions.” However, leave alone details of charges, allegations, the ED is yet to explain why the raid took so much or why the two senior citizens were confined indoors. Unsurprisingly, even till the 5th day, their lawyers did not know why the raid was happening. ‘The raid is going on. We have not had a chance to understand from the clients what has happened. In fact, the clients are also not aware of the entire details, what is the allegation and we don’t know exactly why we are being investigated,’ the lawyers said.”

According to the news report, two of their sons, who live elsewhere in the capital, “were allowed to visit under the supervision of the ED. Hariharan was allowed to attend an online literature festival on Saturday”.

It is known that the Patna High Court had stated in 2013, that tax raids cannot continue for longer than 36 hours. Yet, NewsClick employees tolerate continued searches amidst deteriorating health. Purkayastha suffers from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, while 67-year-old Hariharan has a heart ailment. Neither of them tested their health parameters since the raid began.

Purkayastha, shared that “ “It is one of the longest raids that I know of by the ED,” adding that it seemed that he had “lot of emails” as he has been using gmail since 2005, and it seems that there was too much data “to take down quickly.” The Telegraph reported that the ED officials had “been copying email and other electronic data from devices at the home since Thursday.”

These raids have been condemned by civil society, and also by Opposition parties and senior politicians such as former Union minister Yashwant Sinha who called out the mainstream media’s silence on the issue.

 

 

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties, has also issued a strong statement on Sunday, condemning these raids and the news leaks stating that it is an attempt “to disrupt the journalism that NewsClick is now renowned for: covering voices that do not feature in the mainstream media – whether it is tribal people displaced from the homes by so-called “development” projects or farmers out in protest in large numbers. It is evident that this was a ham-handed attempt to silence a media outlet that continued to feature stories that questioned the narrative the government wants to propagate, even as large sections of the media had surrendered.” These raids are a way of “ Weaponising the law by Criminalising Free Speech,” stated  PUCL.

However, the investigation process is still not over as the ED is likely to summon Purkayastha to its headquarters this week. According to the news report, a few NewsClick “shareholders and their families whose homes were searched have also faced tangential remarks or queries on their links to the CPM, the farmers’ protests, and jailed rights activist Gautam Navlakha who was associated with the website”. The organisation has been covering the news related to all of that extensively. NewsClick had already stated that certain news reports mentioned allegations of illegitimate financial transactions as “selective leak of misleading facts” and were a “malicious attempt to smear the image of Newsclick and discredit our journalism.”

 

Related

ED Raids & NewsClick: Weaponising law by Criminalising Free Speech

Where is India headed ?

85 hours and counting: Raid continues at NewsClick, editor's health deteriorates

85 hours and counting: Raid continues at NewsClick, editor's health deteriorates

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Stop Hate

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A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
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