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Journalists, Writers Raided Under UAPA in Crackdown on Critical Reporting

Raids on Newsclick journalists, writers under UAPA evoke Emergency-era memories, raise concerns over press freedom

New Delhi: Delhi police special cell raids homes of several journalists, writers and satirists associated with Newsclick website early morning today in Delhi. Their phones and laptops have been taken away. Police has started interrogations in matters “related to terror links” in a case involving the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

It includes editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha, veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Urmilesh, senior journalist Basha Singh, political economy commentator Aunindyo Chakravarty, video journalist Abhishar Sharma, Satirist Sanjay Rajaura, writer Geetha Hariharan and activist Sohail Hashmi.

Reports also come that the house and offices of journalist and activist Teesta Setalvad have also raided in Mumbai.

Abhishar Sharma and Bhasha Singh have tweeted about raids at their homes in Delhi.

According to The Wire, the raids are in connection with FIR number 224/2023. The case was filed on August 17, 2023, and invokes several sections (13, 16, 17, 18, and 22) of the draconian UAPA, along with 153(a) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 120 (b) (party to a criminal conspiracy other than a criminal conspiracy to commit an offence) of the Indian Penal Code.

The Wire also reported that, “At the time of writing this, questioning by Delhi police was going on. Sources say that scientist and writer associated with the Delhi Science Forum, D. Raghunandan, has been ‘taken away by the police'”.

No official statement has given on the raids that reminds of the 1975 Emergency on Tuesday morning.

Journalists fraternity believe that the raids conducted to stop Newsclik and disturb these journalists from reporting, who were doing impactful journalism. The socio-political videos of Abhishar Sharma remain in Hindi and used to reach the masses. The simple economy journalism by Aunindyo Chakravarty get liked by people as it narrates India’s present economic situation in a very simplified manner. Bhasha Singh’s political talks in Hindi and the subjects which India’s ‘Godi Media’ ignore were also the cinasores of present Narendra Modi government.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, is the Indian journalist who wrote most of the Adani companies related stories.

Some journalists also tweeted that the raids conducted to divert the attention from the Caste Census released by the Bihar government yesterday.

However, in 2021 also Newsclick was raided by the Enforcement Department (ED). The digital media house has been the target of the present regime since then.

The Digipub News India Foundation, Press Club of India, Mumbai Press Club and Foundation For Media Professionals have tweeted and expressed deep concern on the multiple raids conducted on the houses of journalists and writers associated with Newsclick. The journalistic bodies said that they are monitoring the developments.

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