NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and the news outfit’s HR head Amit Chakravarty were arrested after hours of questioning by the Delhi Police special cell on Tuesday. They were sent to in police custody this morning.
In the run-up to the arrests, at least 35 journalists were quizzed and over 30 locations raided under a Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act case lodged against the media portal in August.
The lead story on page 1 of The Hindu in Delhi said the Delhi police arrested Purkayastha and Chakraborty “in an alleged terror case”. A photo of Purkayastha with the police was captioned “Attack on press”.
The newspaper carried four other reports related to the NewsClick raids on page 12, including one on the INDIA alliance condemning what had happened and urging the BJP to focus on “genuine issues”. Another noted that press bodies described the events as another attempt to “muzzle the press”.
The Times of India led with the NewsClick case too, stating that 100 locations were raided and 46 people, including journalists, questioned. The report highlighted UAPA sections invoked against Purkayastha: “terrorists act, raising funds for terrorist acts, conspiracy and offences by companies.”
A report headlined “Deeply concerned and shocked, say journalist bodies” was also a part of the page 1 lede package. It cited journalist bodies as saying that the investigations must not create an “atmosphere of intimidation”.
The Indian Express in Delhi carried NewsClick as its main story on the front page with the headline “Founder-editor among 2 held under UAPA, 46 questioned in crackdown on news portal”.
The report said more than one journalist questioned by the police said they were asked whether “they covered the Delhi riots, the anti-CAA protests and the farmers’ protests”.
Another journalist told Indian Express: “They repeatedly asked me if I went to Jamia Millia Islamia during the anti-CAA protests and the 2020 Delhi riots. They have taken my bank account details and seized my laptop and phone. The FIR wasn’t shown to me. They asked me about the remuneration I received for a few articles I wrote.”
Hindustan Times prioritised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment on the Bihar caste study as the main story on page 1. A two-column report on NewsClick appeared just below. It said the NewsClick founder has been arrested after “sweeping raids across five cities over allegations of irregularities in the website’s cashbook and foreign funding”.
It added that “at least 400 police officials raided 30 locations across Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Ghaziabad”, and that the opposition parties accused the BJP of “trying to muzzle the press”.
The Telegraph’s front-page six-column headline declared: “Terror whip on media house”. It said the Delhi police in a terror case has alleged that the portal has received “Chinese funding and ran an ‘anti-India agenda’”.
“Purkayastha — a septuagenarian, who was jailed during the Emergency” and NewsClick HR Amit Chakraborty has been arrested, the report said. It added that “none of those allowed to leave after questioning were given back their laptop, phone or other devices”.
Newslaundry reported on the events at NewsClick as they unfolded yesterday. A former NewsClick journalist told us that his laptop, phone, passbooks and property documents were seized, even though the police’s search warrant “was not in my name”. .