Kolkata: The Income Tax (IT) officials’ surveys at two news portals, NewsClick and Newslaundry in Delhi which had started around noon on September 10 and continued till midnight have alarmed the media fraternity including the Digipub News India Foundation and Editors Guild of India because of the way it was conducted.
After a 12-hour long search, which IT officials claimed was a survey, the co-founder of Newslaundry, Abhinandan Sekhri and NewsClick issued statements.
“My phone, laptop and couple of office machines were taken control of and all the data on them downloaded by the IT team,” Abhinandan said in the statement.
“In my understanding, this (taking all data from my laptop and mobile phone) violates my fundamental right to privacy,” added Abhinandan.
It was the second visit by the IT team to the Newslaundry office, earlier in June also, they did it.
A similar statement was issued by NewsClick editors. While searching the NewsClick office, the IT officials, bring its Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha from his residence to the office, while Prabir was advised by the doctor to remain laying on the bed to give rest to his back.
This was the second such raid at NewsClick too, as, in February, Enforcement Directorate (ED) had conducted five days raid at the office as well as the residence of its editor-in-chief Prabir.
All these have shocked Digipub, the digital-only media association which later issued a statement and said, “Digipub is shocked by the harassment meted out by Income Tax officials to the editors of two publications. The phones and laptops of the editors were impounded and data was cloned. This violates the right to privacy. It also compromises journalistic sources. It is a cause of grave worry that the authorities have potentially gained access to confidential information that the journalists may have privy to their course of work.”
“Newsclick and Newslaundry have always spoken truth to power, frequently publishing works that is critical of the government. In a democracy, journalists have been accorded the role of playing watchdog to the institution of the state. Journalists must be allowed to carry out this vital function, without fear of intimidation and punitive action,” the statement read.
Earlier Editors Guild of India had also expressed concern on the survey and said, “The Editors Guild of India is ‘deeply disturbed’ about the Income Tax “surveys” at the offices of news websites http://NewsClick.in and http://Newslaundry.com.”