Press Club, Global Media Groups, Others Condemn ED Raids Against NewsClick

The ED raids against the news website are being described by media organisations as an attempt to silence critical journalism, and to intimidate those who do not toe the official line.

New Delhi: A number of press bodies, media and civil society organisations, among others from India and abroad have condemned the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids against NewsClick.in, an independent media portal based in Delhi.

The Press Club of India (PCI) in a statement has described the raids as an “unsavoury attack on the media in a bid to intimidate and silence critical journalism”.

Stating that a series of attacks on prominent journalists lately has become “the hallmark of government”, it has recalled that in the last one year, numerous first information reports (FIRs) have been registered against journalists on “specious and false charge of sedition and incitement of communal disharmony”.

“The PCI asks the government to end raid raj and false allegations raj against media and take visible steps to ensure democratic freedoms such as free speech and right to liberty,” the PCI statement reads.

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) has said that it is “deeply concerned” by the Enforcement Directorate raids against NewsClick.in, and urged the government not to harass the management and journalists associated with the news website.

“EGI is concerned that raids by the government agencies are not used as coercive measures to suppress free and independent journalism. The Guild demands that care be taken not to undermine the news operations of NewsClick and that its journalists and stakeholders are not harassed under the grab of such measures,” the EGI statement reads.

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People’s Dispatch, a global media organisation covering people’s movements from across the world, has said that it stands in solidarity with the news website.

“The detention of its [NewsClick.in] editors and the smearing of its reputation in the press is a calculated move to intimidate coverage of the farmer’s revolt and other mass struggles that are ongoing in India,” a statement issued by People’s Dispatch said.

On the other hand, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has also condemned the raids against the news portal, and described them as a “blatant attempt to intimidate and suppress an independent news portal”.

A statement issued by the CPI(M) has said that “the Central agencies are being used by the Modi government to harass and silence independent media. The CPI(M) demands an end to the vindictive action against Newsclick and its management”.

Farmers’ union Bharti Kisan Union Ekta Ugrahan has also stood by the news portal, condemning the “serious attack on the online media and freedom of press”. It has observed that the news platform has been “reporting extensively on the farmers’ agitation for the past two months”.

“…consider it a continuation of repressive measures adopted against several senior journalists last week by filing sedition charges against them, and also curbing free speech on Twitter and YouTube. Our organisation demands stopping such raids and other repressive activities immediately,” Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of the BKU Ekta Ugrahan, said in a statement.

The ED on Tuesday morning raided the residences of several officials and journalists associated with NewsClick.in, an independent media portal based in Delhi.

Sources within the media group confirmed to The Wire that those raided included owner Prabir Purkayastha and editor Pranjal. According to The Hindu, the organisation’s office in Delhi’s Saidulajab was also raided.

According to The Quint, the ED said the raids on NewsClick were linked to an alleged money laundering case and the agency was probing funding the organisation had received from “dubious companies” abroad.