New Delhi: After the Special Cell of Delhi Police on Tuesday arrested NewsClick founder and editor Prabir Purkayastha, and HR head Amit Chakravarty under anti-terror law, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the case has garnered significant attention and is being closely monitored by many including media organisations and civil rights groups.
A Delhi court on Wednesday also remanded to seven days of police custody.
Before the Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patials House Courts, the police had sought custodial interrogation of the accused for several reasons, like to unearth the entire conspiracy, to confront the accused with data recovered from digital devices, to complete the search at the PPK Newsclick office, to interrogate the accused regarding the content of the emails and uncover the conspiracy.
The police had, however, sought 15 days of police custody for both accused individuals.
On August 17, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police registered a case alleging that foreign funds amounting to crores of rupees had been illegally funneled into India by both Indian and foreign entities with the intent to disrupt India’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national security.
The case has reportedly been registered under various Sections 13 (unlawful activities), 16 (Terrorist Act), section 17 (raising funds for terrorist acts), section 18 (Conspiracy) and section 22 C (Offences by Companies) of the UAPA and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
According to the remand copy, which is with IANS, raids were conducted on October 3 at 88 locations in Delhi and seven locations in other states, leading to the seizure of electronic devices and documents.
“It was learnt that Prabir Purkayastha conspired with a group namely People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) to sabotage the electoral process during 2019 general elections. It is also learnt that People’s Dispatch Portal, owned and maintained by M/S PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd. has been used for intentionally peddling these false narratives through paid news in lieu of crores of rupees of illegally routed foreign funds as part of conspiracy,” the remand copy reads.
The remand copy states that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had previously registered a case against PPK NewsClick Studio Pvt. Ltd. and seized electronic gadgets and data from their office.
Subsequently, during the investigation, data extracted from the seized devices was analyzed, revealing a larger conspiracy.
The case alleges that secret intelligence inputs indicated that foreign funds were illicitly introduced into India by individuals and entities hostile to the nation’s interests. These funds were reportedly intended to disrupt the nation’s unity, integrity, and security.
It is alleged that M/S PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd. received fraudulent foreign funds in crores of rupees from M/s Worldwide Media Holdings LLC, USA, and other entities over a short span of five years, starting from April 2018.
It states that these funds were fraudulently infused into India through a complex web of entities, including Worldwide Media Holdings, People Support Foundation, Justice and Education Fund, GSPAN LLC, and Tricontinental Ltd. Inc. USA, among others.
It has been alleged that Neville Roy Singham, an active member of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China, was involved in illegally routing foreign funds through these entities. Some of these funds were intended to support anti-Indian activities, including those related to banned Naxal organisations.
It has been alleged that the accused conspired to peddle narratives that challenge India’s sovereignty, including depicting Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territories. It is claimed that they intended to undermine the unity and territorial integrity of India.
Allegations have been made that funds were distributed to various individuals, including associates of Teesta Setalvad, a well-known activist and journalist, and others.