A policeman visited the Delhi office of the Wire on Friday, asked to see the rent deed and inquired about its staffers, supposedly as a routine security check ahead of the Independence Day.
That the “check” came soon after the news website , as a member of a consortium of international media organisations, that dozens of Indian journalists, activists, politicians and even a virologist had been snooped on using the Israeli spyware Pegasus raised questions about the intention of the visit.
Siddharth Varadarajan, a founding editor of the news website, tweeted about the policeman's visit, calling the routine check “strange”. The policeman reportedly asked who Vinod Dua was, if he could speak to Afra Khanum Sherwani and if he could see the Wire’s rent agreement. Strangely, according to Varadarajan, the policeman also asked about Swara Bhaskar, an actress not associated with the news organisation.
Responding to Varadarajan’s tweet, the deputy commissioner of police, New Delhi, claimed the policeman had gone to verify an office that didn’t bear any signboard. He said that security and anti-terrorism measures such as tenant verification, checking of guest houses was being done throughout Delhi in the run-up to the Independence Day.
On Thursday morning, the Income Tax department conducted on Dainik Bhaskar, a Hindi daily which reported critically and extensively on the mishandling of the second Covid wave. The IT department also raided the offices of Bharat Samachar, a TV news channel based in Lucknow.