Delhi Police Files Chargesheet Against NewsClickFounder, Alleging Chinese Funding for Disinformation and Unrest

Delhi Police file 8,000-page chargesheet against NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, accusing him of receiving Chinese funds for disinformation campaigns and terror funding. Purkayastha was arrested in October 2023 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

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Delhi Police Files Chargesheet Against NewsClickFounder, Alleging Chinese Funding for Disinformation and Unrest

Delhi Police Files Chargesheet Against NewsClickFounder, Alleging Chinese Funding for Disinformation and Unrest

The Delhi Police has filed an extensive 8,000-page chargesheet against Prabir Purkayastha, the founder and editor-in-chief of NewsClick, accusing him of receiving funds from China to fuel disinformation campaigns, support protests, and engage in terror funding. Purkayastha was arrested in October 2023 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and is alleged to be part of a conspiracy to disrupt India's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Why this matters: This case has significant implications for India's national security and sovereignty, as it alleges foreign interference in domestic affairs. If proven, it could lead to a re-evaluation of India's laws and regulations regarding foreign funding and its impact on national security.

The chargesheet, filed by the Delhi Police Special Cell, claims that Purkayastha received close to ₹10 crore as a "consultant" from various entities under Shanghai-based businessman Neville Roy Singham between 2018 and 2021. Emails exchanged between Purkayastha, Singham, and others allegedly demonstrate a "deep-rooted conspiracy" to spread misinformation and promote Chinese propaganda.

According to the police, Purkayastha and others aimed to mobilize the masses on various issues to "keep hammering and nailing the corpus of India" and weaken, destabilize, and finally disintegrate the country. The chargesheet accuses Purkayastha of funding Pakistan-based terror organization Lashkar-e-Taiba, Left Wing Extremists, and distributing cash among rioters during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.

The chargesheet also names activists Gautam Navlakha, Teesta Setalvad, and Harsh Mander. Amit Chakravorty, head of human resources at NewsClick, was arrested along with Purkayastha and has since turned approver in the case. The police accuse Navlakha and Purkayastha of funding terror organizations and distributing cash among rioters.

NewsClick has dismissed the police chargesheet as "absurd and baseless," claiming that the allegations are part of an attempt to silence its independent journalism. The company states that it has no links with the Maoists or any other terrorist organization and follows all relevant Indian laws in its business dealings. NewsClick maintains that all funding received by the company has been through appropriate banking channels and has been reported to the relevant authorities.

The Delhi Police's investigation into NewsClick began after The New York Times published a report on August 8, 2023, alleging that the news portal received money from Singham to distort India's map by projecting Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territories. As part of the probe, the police raided 88 locations in Delhi and seven other states, seizing around 300 electronic devices.

The chargesheet, which runs over 8,000 pages, includes statements from eight protected witnesses and accused-turned-approver Amit Chakravorty. It also contains maps, mail exchanges, financial transactions of NewsClick, and incriminating evidence such as books and posters seized from a protected witness's house. The police have listed 207 witnesses, including officers from the National Investigation Agency, Central Industrial Security Force, Delhi Police, and income tax department.

A Delhi court took cognizance of the chargesheet on Tuesday, with the next hearing scheduled for May 31. The police have accused employees of Teesta Setalvad's Sabrang of receiving their salaries from NewsClick after her trust lost its FCRA license. The Delhi Police claims that foreign funds amounting to over ₹115 crore were infused illegally into India by entities inimical to the country in pursuance of a conspiracy to disrupt its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The extensive chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police paints a complex scenario of alleged foreign funding, disinformation campaigns, and links to extremist groups. The case unfolding in court will hinge on the evidence presented to determine the veracity of the accusations against Purkayastha and NewsClick. The Delhi Police Special Cell states,"Foreign funds in crores have been infused illegally in India by Indian and foreign entities inimical to India in pursuance of a conspiracy to disrupt sovereignty and territorial integrity of India to cause disaffection against India and to threaten the unity, integrity, security of India."

Key Takeaways

  • Delhi Police files 8,000-page chargesheet against NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha.
  • Purkayastha accused of receiving ₹10 crore from China to fuel disinformation campaigns.
  • Chargesheet alleges links to terror funding, protests, and extremist groups.
  • NewsClick denies allegations, claims funding was through legal channels.
  • Case has implications for India's national security and sovereignty.