Truth shall prevail, have full faith in legal system: Newsclick

The raids that began in the morning on February 9, are reportedly still on, till the evening of February 10


The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on the offices of independent news portal Newsclick’s office and the homes of their senior team that started on February 9, and are still on at the time of publishing this report. According to a statement put out by the organisation, the Enforcement Directorate officials were still searching the office and at homes “in order to find evidence for what are alleged to be financial irregularities”. 

According to Newsclick, media reports on the raids have quoted from what “appears to be the official narrative that alleges that Newsclick was involved in “money laundering” by channeling funds received from abroad”. Newsclick has stated that it has “cooperated with the officials and will continue to do so. If the ED and the government are truthful and follow the course of law, no wrongdoing will be found and this unfortunate event will be closed”, adding that it “has nothing to hide.”

The independent news organisation, is founded by Prabir Purkayastha, who is also its Editor-in-Chief, and the portal is edited by Pranjal, both of whose homes are also being raided by ED, has stated that, “It has become a routine practice with the present government to deploy government-controlled agencies to deal with all those who disagree with and criticise the government. In the past, the income tax department, the ED, various Central investigative agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation and National Investigation Agency, have been selectively used in this manner against a range of people – from journalists to political leaders, to even farmers’ leaders.” 

It added, “The whole panoply of the legal instruments available with the government have been deployed for such politically motivated coercive actions, including filing cases of sedition, defamation, harming harmony, breach of peace, etc. under the Indian Penal Code, and use of other laws like the Disaster Management Act, the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Information Technology Act, and others. The present raid at Newsclick appears to be on the same lines, and its purpose appears to be the same: to cow down an independent and progressive voice through a vindictive course of action.”

Newsclick added that in the meantime, they will “continue to report and record voices of the unheard and unseen people of India, and the world, who are struggling to build a life of dignity and well-being. Efforts such as these raids, to suppress protests and indeed, any striving for progressive thought, will not deter those who stand for justice. There has been an outpouring of support and solidarity for Newsclick from across the country and the world over, for which Newsclick is thankful.Truth Shall Prevail. We Have Full Faith in Legal System.”

Since the news of the ED raids broke, the organisation has received massive solidarity from all sessions including fellow journalists, political leaders, civil rights activists, citizens activists, and most importantly from their readers. Digipub, an organisation representing 11 news websites issued a statement condemning the ED raids on one of its members. “Newsclick has always upheld the highest standards of journalistic integrity and speaking truth to power. Its commendable journalist work, seeking to hold power accountable speaks for itself”, stated Digipub, adding that the raid was “a clear attempt to suppress journalism critical of the government and its allies. Such use of state agencies to intimidate journalists and suppress adversarial journalism is detrimental to not only the freedom of the press, but also the very idea of democratic accountability.” Digipub has demanded that the ED action be stopped and the agency should clear why Newsclick was raided. The Committee for Journalists Protection has also posted a tweet urging the authorities to “respect press freedom”.

The Editors Guild of India has also issued a statement expressing deep concern about the Enforcement Directorate raids. It stated that Newsclick “has been at the frontline of reporting on the farmers agitation, the anti-CAA protests, and has been critical of various government policies and of a few powerful corporates houses.” The EGI has stated that it is “concerned that raids by government agencies are not used as coercive measures to suppress free and independent journalism” and has demanded that “care be taken to not undermine the news operations of Newsclick and that it’s journalists and stakeholders are not harassed under the garb of such measures.”

Solidarity has also come in from the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which issued a statement, condemned the raids and called them “yet another attack on independent media”. The CPI(M) stated that the “ED action is a blatant attempt to intimidate and suppress an independent news portal. Newsclick has been providing credible and wide coverage of the farmers protests. The Central agencies are being used by the Modi government to harass and silence independent media.” The CPI(M) has also demanded that “the vindictive action against Newsclick and its management,” be ended.

The Press Club of India has called the raids on Newsclick “an unsavoury attack on the media in a bid to intimidate and silence critical journalism. This particular news  group has closely covered the ongoing farmers protest, and specialises in reports on government policies  on the poorer sections of society. Publicising the charge of alleged money laundering against a small, public-spirited, news company is no  way to defend democratic values and institutions, which the government proclaims to be doing, especially on the world stage.” 

The PCI added that there has been “a series of attacks on prominent journalists of the country, and also on lesser known hard working  journalists who report from the ground in far-flung areas of the country, has regrettably become the hallmark of the government. In the past one year, numerous FIRs have been registered against journalists on the plainly specious and false charge of sedition and incitement of communal disharmony.” The PCI added that in the past too “it has been seen to be the case that vile charges against journalists and against boutique journalist groups  doing ground-level work to expose communal agendas and poor people issues do not make headway in  terms of investigations. Nor have they withstood judicial scrutiny. All they end up doing is give the  government a bad name.” The PCI asked that the government end this “raid raj and false allegations raj against the media and take visible steps to ensure democratic freedoms such as free speech and right to liberty.”

According to the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, the raids are “deplorable” and are a “continuation of the attacks on media & creative persons including Munawar Faruqui, Mandeep Punia, Mrinal Pande, Rajdeep Sardesai, Zafar Agha, Siddharth Varadarajan, Vinod Jose and others who have been vocal in support of the farmer’s agitation.” 


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