Left’s favourite Newsclick funded by China, ED investigates collected Evidences

In a startling turn of events on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, the Delhi Police executed a massive operation that sent shockwaves through the journalistic community. Approximately 500 law enforcement personnel fanned out across over 100 locations in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Mumbai, setting their sights squarely on Newsclick media and its journalists.

News agency PTI swiftly reported that during the raids, the police confiscated the mobile phones and laptops of these journalists, effectively shutting down their means of communication and work. In a chilling move, prominent figures in Newsclick, including its Editor-in-Chief, Prabir Purkayastha, and well-known journalists Abhisar Sharma and Urmilesh, found themselves targeted by this massive operation. While journalists were initially taken into custody for questioning, the police took the extraordinary step of formally arresting Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakraborty, who happen to be shareholders of Newsclick.

This high-profile crackdown unfolded against the backdrop of a case registered on August 17, invoking stringent charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, specifically Section 153A, which pertains to promoting enmity between two groups, and Section 120B, dealing with criminal conspiracy, of the Indian Penal Code.

However, this story isn’t isolated. Newsclick had already been under the scanner of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on charges of money laundering, adding a layer of complexity to this unfolding saga. But the real intrigue lies in the shadowy connection with China that seems to have emerged in this unfolding drama.

The accusations on the table are explosive. According to a report by The New York Times, Newsclick’s web portal is allegedly intertwined with a Chinese-backed media machine. What’s more, a connection has been established between the agency’s largest fundraiser, American billionaire Neville Roy Singham, and the Chinese government. As the pieces of this puzzle fall into place, it becomes evident that the government had been meticulously piecing together this intricate web of connections.

The New York Times report further underscores the content disseminated by Newsclick, suggesting that it aligns with the narrative peddled by Chinese media and its government. Curiously, Newsclick has often, and inexplicably, extolled the virtues of China without any substantial reason, showering praise on its potential and history, while maintaining a conspicuous silence on India.

India’s financial watchdog, the ED, initiated its investigations into Newsclick’s alleged funding links with China back in 2021, indicating that this media organization was, in fact, always under the government’s radar. Shockingly, reports emerging from these investigations have revealed that Newsclick received a staggering $4.56 million (approximately 38 crores INR) in foreign funding within just three years. This money, it is alleged, was subsequently disbursed among controversial journalists, including Gautam Navlakha and Teesta Setalvad.

During the course of the recent search operations conducted by the Delhi Police, foreign currency, incriminating documents, and digital evidence were seized, painting a damning picture of financial irregularities and undisclosed foreign sources. The origin of this substantial 38.05 crore INR has been traced back to an undisclosed source within China, raising serious questions about the nature of these funds and their intended purpose.

The list of beneficiaries who allegedly received money from this China-based organization in the USA reads like a who’s who of the Indian media landscape, and the sums involved are nothing short of astounding:

  1. Javed Anand, husband of Teesta Setalvad, received 12.61 lakh INR.
  2. Tamara, the daughter of Teesta Setalvad, received 10.93 lakh INR.
  3. Gautam Navlakha received a whopping 20.53 lakh INR.
  4. Urmilesh, another prominent journalist, allegedly received 22.78 lakh INR.
  5. Pranjoy Guha Thakurta, a renowned journalist, received 40.04 lakh INR.
  6. Abhisar Sharma, a well-known face in Indian journalism, reportedly received 45.69 lakh INR.
  7. Bappaditya Sinha, too, received a substantial sum of 52.09 lakh INR.

The gravity of these allegations and their potential implications for the Indian media landscape cannot be overstated. The arrest of Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakraborty, coupled with the massive raids and investigations, has sent shockwaves through the journalistic community.

The Press Club of India has taken note of these developments and issued a statement saying, “We are monitoring the developments closely and will be releasing a detailed statement in due course.” As the story continues to unfold, the implications for press freedom, foreign influence in Indian media, and the broader landscape of journalism remain at the forefront of public discourse.

In conclusion, the events of October 3, 2023, have raised serious questions about the intersection of journalism, foreign funding, and government investigations in India. The allegations of connections with China and the large sums of foreign funding involved have thrown the Indian media landscape into turmoil, and the nation awaits further developments in this unfolding saga.

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