CBI Files FCRA Violation Case Against NewsClick; Two Locations Raided Again

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The action against the online news portal is the new addition among multiple agencies already probing it  for its alleged Chinese links and dubious funding

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — Officials from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday again raided NewsClick’s office and the New Delhi home of its founder Prabir Purkayastha. The raids were carried out after the agency registered a case to probe violation of foreign contribution violation act (FCRA).

CBI action against NewsClick, the online news portal critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is the new addition among multiple agencies already probing it for its alleged Chinese links and “dubious funding”.

Last week, the Delhi Police arrested Purkayastha and Human Resources head of NewsClick, Amit Chakravorty, after charging them under stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), media reports said.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is already probing the website since 2021 and has attached assets belonging to Purkayastha.

The Delhi Police FIR alleges that Purkayastha conspired with a group named Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism to sabotage the 2019 general elections and that Chinese firms such as Xiaomi and Vivo incorporated shell companies to infuse foreign funds to further the conspiracy, a Hindustan Times report said.

Citing secret inputs, it claims that Indian and foreign entities illegally infused funds worth crores and that this was done in pursuance of conspiracy and intention to disrupt India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, cause disaffection, and threaten the country’s unity and integrity.

It also names activist Gautam Navlakha and Neville Roy Singham, the American millionaires, accusing them of spreading Chinese propaganda.

On Navlakha’s association with Purkayastha, the FIR claims they have known each other since 1991.

The FIR cites emails between Purkayastha, Neville, and “some other Chinese employees” and says they “expose their intent to show that Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir as not parts of India”.

NewsClick has refuted the charges, saying it never published any news or information at the behest of any Chinese entity or authority. It also denied taking any directions from Singham.

“All funding received by NewsClick has been through appropriate banking channels and been reported to the relevant authorities as required by law, as substantiated by the Reserve Bank of India in proceedings before the high court of Delhi,” the portal said in a statement.

ED, which is also examining Delhi Police FIR, had raided Purkayastha’s premises in September 2021.

The financial crimes probe agency has claimed earlier that it is probing “fraudulent” foreign funds infusion of over ₹86 crore into the company that runs the portal.

NewsClick came into prominence two years ago with its reporting of the farmer protests against government plans to liberalise the agriculture sector, the anti-Muslim riots in Delhi, and the country’s response to the pandemic. In 2021, the authorities raided NewsClick’s office and the homes of seven staff members for what they described as improper foreign investments.

The online publication called the allegations at the time “misleading, unfounded and without basis in fact or law.”

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