The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has raided the homes of senior journalists and officials associated with independent media portal NewsClick.in. The raids reportedly began at 10 AM on January 9 in Delhi, at the homes of the journalists as well as the office of the news portal.
According to news reports, and information shared by journalists over social media, those raided included NewsClick’s owner senior journalist Prabir Purkayastha and its editor Pranjal. The Quint, shared on twitter that according to the ED these raids are linked to an alleged money laundering case. It added that the probe was looking at alleged funding received from “dubious companies” abroad.
— Poonam Agarwal (@poonamjourno) February 9, 2021
Journalists including those who have been associated with the portal also confirmed the ED raids.
— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) February 9, 2021
Modi government’s assault on media continues with ED raid on @newsclickin office, homes of owner Prabir Purkayastha and editor Pranjal, in Delhi. NewsClick was one of the last bastions of critical reporting on the government’s policies.
— Mohammad Ali (@hindureporter) February 9, 2021
Readers, activists, and civil society members sent messages of solidarity with the journalists.
Modi & Shah continue to muzzle independent small media, that unlike Big Modia, insists on reporting on the Andolans – people’s movements – of our country. ED raid is on now at the @newsclickin office & the home of its owner Prabir Purkayastha and editor Pranjal. Shame!
— Kavita Krishnan (@kavita_krishnan) February 9, 2021
The office of news portal #Newsclick in Delhi raided, along with residences of founder Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha and Editor Pranjal.
The attack on media houses which are speaking up on recent issues, continues !
— Aishe (ঐশী) (@aishe_ghosh) February 9, 2021
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) also issued a statement condemning the ED raids on the office of online portal Newsclick and the homes of its owner editor Prabir Purkayastha, editor Pranjal and human resources head Amit Chakravarty. According to the DUJ statement signed by office bearers, senior journalists S.K.Pande Sujata Madhok, “Newsclick has been providing a platform to leading investigative journalists like Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and bold video journalist Abhisar Sharma, P.Sainath – among others. It has also been reporting extensively on the farmers’ agitation for the past two months. It has established itself as a different voice with news and analysis of national and international affairs.”
The DUJ stated that it viewed the raids as a “serious attack on the online media and the freedom of the press. Coming in the wake of the filing of sedition charges against several senior journalists last week and government moves to curb free speech on Twitter and YouTube, the raids are ominous.” It added that the “ aim is clearly to intimidate and browbeat independent and critical voices that disagree with the government on contemporary issues.
The raid also brings back memories of how yet another portal The Quint had been targeted in the past. IT officials had raided Quint’s offices and the home of its founder Raghav Bahl in October 2018 purportedly in connection with a “tax evasion” case. An Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) was filed in June 2019 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for the alleged non-disclosure of GBP 2.38 lakhs that was allegedly used to purchase a property in London. Bahl maintained that he had not defaulted on either his taxes or his debts and was just being harassed.
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