Enforcement Directorate (ED), the premier government financial crime investigation agency, has raided the offices of Newsclick, a digital news portal, in a case of money laundering worth 30 crore rupees. As per agency officials, the holding company of the news portal received 30 crore rupees in the last three years from an American company that is already dissolved.
“The searches have been carried out under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, based on an FIR registered by the Delhi Police a few months ago. We have so far found evidence showing receipt of about Rs 30 crore from abroad. The funds also came from a U.S.-based company, which had already been liquidated. Another U.S. firm, said to be a shareholder, is under the scanner,” said an ED official.
The premier investigation agency conducted the raid in the office of the company as well as at the homes of directors. The ED also raided the home of Newsclick’s Founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha.
The news portal and the liberal establishment has already started crying foul over the raids. “DIGIPUB News India Foundation believes that the ED raids on NewsClick, its editor and directors, is a clear attempt to suppress journalism critical of the government and its allies. Such use of State agencies to intimidate journalists and suppress adversarial journalism is detrimental to not only the freedom of the press, but also the very idea of democratic accountability. Everyone emerges poorer in the long run,” said the portal.
The usual suspects like the Press Club of India, Editors Guild of India, The Wire, The Quint, and the unemployed left-liberal journalists have already termed the ED raids as an attack on press freedom, even before going into merits of the case. Press Club of India called 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 farmers’ protests at Delhi’s borders, and “specialises in reports on government policies on the poorer sections of society”.
“Editors Guild of India is concerned about ED raids at the office of http://NewsClick.in, and residences of its senior journalists and officials. EGI is concerned that raids by government agencies are not used as coercive measures to suppress free and independent journalism,” said Editors Guild of India in a press statement.
Editors Guild of India is concerned about ED raids at the office of https://t.co/GYNJdhmMds, and residences of its senior journalists and officials. EGI is concerned that raids by government agencies are not used as coercive measures to suppress free and independent journalism. pic.twitter.com/fYSRNzqrqW
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) February 10, 2021
Abhisar Sharma, the unemployable journalist who could not differentiate between wheat and paddy, and currently works for Newsclick after being kicked out of mainstream media organisations, is already worried that the small-medium that he had might also close. “ED raid at https://t.co/WK95HKtJzE ‘s office & Directors/Shareholders home since 10am this morning. @newsclickin . This is where I do my shows Bol ke lab aazaad hain tere and Newschakra,” he tweeted.
— Abhisar Sharma (@abhisar_sharma) February 9, 2021
The Marxist, Leninist, and Communists in the system are worried that the only source of money laundering and propaganda that they had is set to be snatched, and are thus, tweeting hysterically.
I have been making videos for @newsclickin for more than a year now. Used to visit its office every week till COVID came. It is so small that as a visitor I felt I should wash the cup that I was given tea in. Obviously such an organisation must be of great interest to the ED.
— Aunindyo Chakravarty (@AunindyoC) February 9, 2021
Sad but not surprised that a platform like #Newsclick is under attack. It created space for many senior journalists who found working in TV channels impossible. It's founder Probir Purkayastha fought emergency as well so he knows the ways to fight.
— S lrfan Habib (@irfhabib) February 9, 2021
The attack on #Newsclick is an application of the Modi doctrine of demonisation of dissent and assault on independent media, especially sections of media that focus on struggles for justice, people's rights and the constitutional vision of a secular democratic republic.
— Dipankar (@Dipankar_cpiml) February 9, 2021
The left-liberal media establishment of India is the epitome of hypocrisy. The people in this establishment take ‘high moral ground’ in front of the camera. Be it on women empowerment, eve-teasing, transparency in businesses, a crackdown on black money so on and so forth. But when it comes to adhering to these principles in personal life or office environment, they violate almost every rule of these principles. In 2018, The Quint was caught in money-laundering and this time it is Newsclick. The liberals were crying about media freedom at the time of the raid on The Quint and this time too it is business as usual.