Newsclick Founder Charged Under UAPA

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The Delhi Police has filed a chargesheet against Newsclick, a news portal and its founder Prabir Purkayastha. The chargesheet against them includes various offenses, including terror funding and promoting Chinese propaganda. It also connects Mr. Purkayastha to the farmers’ protests and the 2020 Delhi riots. The chargesheet is very detailed, consisting of around 8,000 pages with annexures to support.

In October 2020, the founder of NewsClick and its head of HR, Amit Chakravarty, were arrested by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell. They were taken into custody following police raids across the city and have been charged under the UAPA. Both individuals are currently held in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

There are two main accusations against Mr. Purkayastha and Newsclick. Firstly, the Delhi Police alleges that Mr. Purkayastha was involved in collecting funds for terrorist activities, with evidence linking him to a conspiracy aimed at funding terrorist organizations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. The chargesheet claims that ₹91 crore was channelled through Newsclick for such activities.

Secondly, Mr. Purkayastha is accused of altering maps to endorse Chinese territorial claims by portraying India without Kashmir and Aksai Chin. Newsclick is also alleged to have engaged in a disinformation campaign, particularly concerning protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

They are accused of conspiring to incite protests and riots such as the farmers’ protests and Delhi riots. In this regard they are alleged to have funded various terrorist organizations. Newsclick is also accused of mobilizing masses against the CAA/NRC, spreading misinformation and inciting hatred through its content.

Another accusation is that Mr. Purkayastha conspired with an American millionaire Mr. Neville Roy Singham and others to publish articles against vaccines made by Indian pharmaceutical companies, thereby defaming the Indian government.

The Delhi Police claims that Mr. Purkayastha had active links with the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and funded their activities. Furthermore, Mr. Purkayastha and Newsclick are accused of promoting Chinese propaganda on their platform. The chargesheet suggests that the news portal received substantial funds for this purpose, casting doubts about its journalistic integrity and independence. The Patiala House Court in Delhi has acknowledged the chargesheet and set May 31 as date of hearing.

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