Funds came from China to disrupt India's sovereignty: Delhi Police FIR against NewsClick

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: Delhi Police, in an FIR filed under anti-terror law UAPA against online news portal NewsClick, has alleged that a large amount of funds came from China to "disrupt the sovereignty of India" and cause disaffection against the country.

It also alleged that NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha conspired with a group -- People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) -- including PADS convenor Battini Rao, historian Dilip Simeon, social activist Deepak Dholakia, director of Delhi-based NGO Aman Trust Jamal Kidwai and journalist Kiran Shaheen, among others, to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

These foreign funds were fraudulently infused by an active member of the propaganda department of the Communist Party of China, Neville Roy Singham, it claimed.

Delhi Police provided a copy of the FIR to NewsClick on Friday, a day after a city court directed it to do so.

"Chinese telecom giants like Xiaomi, Vivo, etc., incorporated thousands of shell companies in India in violation of the PMLA, FEMA for illegally infusing foreign funds in India in furtherance of this conspiracy," said the FIR, a copy of which is with PTI.

Senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta during a protest organised by journalists over police actions on news portal NewsClick, at Press Club of India in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

"In furtherance of this conspiracy to disrupt the sovereignty of India and cause disaffection against India, a large amount of funds was routed from China in a circuitous and camouflaged manner and paid news were intentionally peddled, criticising domestic policies, development projects of India and promoting, projecting and defending policies and programmes of the Chinese government," it said.

It claimed that these foreign funds were allegedly distributed to activist Gautam Navlakha and associates of activists Teesta Seetalvad, her husband and activist Javed Anand, and journalists Urmilesh and Aratrika Halder, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Abhisar Sharma, and others.

Navlakha, who is under house arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, has been associated with Purkhayasta since 1991 and is also a shareholder of PPK NewsClick Studio Private Limited since 2018, according to the FIR.

"Navlakha remained involved in the anti-national nexus with Ghulam Nabu Fai, who is an agent of ISI of Pakistan. Prabir, Neville and other employees of Neville's Shanghai-based company StarStream have exchanged mails which expose their intent to show that Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as not part of India," the FIR read.

"A false narrative was propagated to discredit the efforts of Indian government to contain the COVID-19 pandemic," Delhi Police said.

Journalists take part in a candle march against Police raid on news portal NewsClick, in Mumbai on Thursday. Photo: PTI

Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty, the human resources department head at NewsClick, have been arrested by Delhi Police under sections 13, 16, 17, 18 and 22C of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and 153A and 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on Tuesday.

According to police, a total of 46 people -- 37 men and nine women -- were questioned by the Delhi Police Special Cell. Journalists Urmilesh and Abhisar Sharma were questioned for a second time in the NewsClick foreign funding case.

On Tuesday, raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on those named in the FIR.

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