Editors Guild tells the government to stop ‘harassing and intimidating independent media groups’
NEW DELHI — One day after the Income Tax Department officials conducted “surveys” at the offices of two digital news outlets, Newslaundry and New Click, its editors have issued statements expressing concern over the way the action was executed as also calling the investigation as “attempts to stifle the independent journalism of media organisations.”
Abhinandan Sekhri, the founding editor of Newslaundry, said that the manner in which the officials downloaded the data from his electronic devices “violates my fundamental right to privacy”.
In a statement issued on the publication’s website, Sekhri, however, said that the officials were “courteous and professional”.
“I was told the law requires me to comply without seeking legal advice. They searched and looked through all computer devices at the premises. My personal mobile phone, laptop and a couple of office machines were taken control of and all the data on them downloaded by the IT team,” reads the statement.
The “survey” at both places began at around noon and lasted for close to 12 hours.
According to News Click, the IT team recorded the statement of News Click’s Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha; impounded his phone; and took away documents
Both outlets said this was the second raid by officials of government agencies. IT officials had visited Newslaundry in June and similarly News Click was raided by the Enforcement Directorate.
“We had cooperated with them then too. We have nothing to hide and have done everything by the book and are not in any breach or violation of any law. We conduct our business honestly and with integrity. We have in the past given the IT authorities all documents related to our funding and accounts. We will cooperate in whatever way we are required to by law,” said Sekhri, adding that they will continue to practice “public interest journalism which is why we exist”.
News Click said that yesterday’s raid appears to be related to “the same false and unfounded allegations being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Economic Offences Wing, Delhi Police”. The publication said it has challenged these allegations in courts.
Meanwhile, Editors Guild on Saturday issued a statement saying it was “deeply disturbed” by these raids.
It called on the government to stop “harassing and intimidating independent media groups” and demanded that such actions should be conducted in a manner so as not to undermine the rights of journalists and media organisations.