Prabir Purkayastha conspired to build narrative that Kashmir, Arunachal not part of India: Police

Prabir Purkayastha
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of NewsClick Prabir Purkayastha is brought to Delhi Police Special Cell in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Photo: AP/Dinesh Joshi

New Delhi: The Delhi Police has claimed that NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha allegedly conspired to peddle a narrative that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories.

Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty were arrested on Tuesday by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police. They were arrested in a case filed under the anti-terror law following allegations that the portal received money for pro-China propaganda.

In the remand application, the police said, "Secret inputs revealed that Purkayastha, Neville Roy Singham and some other Chinese employees of Singham-owned Shanghai-based company have exchanged mails which expose their intent to show Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as not part of India."

"Such attempts by these persons reveal their conspiracy to peddle a narrative, both globally and domestically, that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are disputed territories. Their attempts to tinker with the northern borders of India and to show Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as not parts of India in maps amount to an act intended towards undermining the unity and territorial integrity of India," the application stated.

It was also learnt that Gautam Navlakha, a shareholder in NewsClick, remained involved in anti-Indian and unlawful activities such as actively supporting banned Naxal organisations and having anti-national nexus with Gulam Nabi Fai, an agent of Pakistan's ISI, it stated.

It has also been learnt that foreign funds have been siphoned off by Purkayastha and his associates, the police said.

According to the application, "The accused persons have also conspired to disrupt supplies and services essential to the life of community in India and abet damage and destruction of property by protraction of farmers' protest through such illegal foreign funding."

A false narrative was propagated to discredit the efforts of the Indian government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the police said in its application.

It was learnt that Purkayastha conspired with a group -- People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism -- to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 general elections. It was also learnt that People's Dispatch Portal, owned and maintained by NewsClick, has been used for intentionally peddling these false narratives through paid news in lieu of crores of rupees of illegally routed foreign funds as part of a conspiracy, it stated.

An analysis of e-mails shows that Singham, Purkayastha and Chakraborty were in direct contact with each other and were found to be discussing how to create a map of India without Kashmir and to show Arunachal Pradesh as a disputed area, the application stated.

To achieve the objective, the accused persons, in the guise of foreign funds, received more than Rs 115 crore, according to the application.

A raid was conducted on Tuesday at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on the suspects named in the FIR and surfaced in the analysis of data, the police said.

The police applied for 15 days' police remand for both the accused and got their custody for seven days.

The police sealed NewsClick's office in Delhi, officials said, adding that 46 suspects were questioned and digital devices, including laptops and mobile phones, and documents taken away for examination.

(With PTI inputs.)

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