The Press Club of India issued a statement today condemning yesterday's raids by the Enforcement Directorate on the office of Newsclick, and the homes of the web portal's senior management.
Calling it an "unsavoury attack on the media in a bid to intimidate and silence critical journalism", the statement pointed out that Newsclick has "closely covered" the ongoing farmer protests at Delhi's borders, and "specialises in reports on government policies on the poorer sections of society".
News reports had quoted senior ED officials as saying the raids were in connection with a "money laundering case pertaining to foreign funding". The statement said that "publicising" this charge against a "a small, public-spirited, news company" is "no way to defend democratic values and institutions, which the government proclaims to be doing".
"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," the statement said. "Nor have they withstood judicial scrutiny. All they end up doing is give the government a bad name."
The press club asked the government to "end 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".
Statement from Editors Guild of India
The Editors Guild of India also expressed its "deep concern" over the raids.
"In the recent past the website 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 corporate houses," its press statement said. "EGI is concerned that raids by government agencies are not used as coercive measures to suppress free and independent journalism."
The guild demanded that "care be taken to not undermine the news operations of Newsclick and that its journalists and stakeholders are not harassed under the garb of such measures".