Indian police have conducted raids on the office of NewsClick, a news portal, as well as the homes of journalists and writers associated with the company. The raids are part of an investigation into suspected illegal foreign funding of the media company. Laptops and mobile phones were seized during the operation. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) confirmed that a special investigations team launched the search operation to identify individuals who may have been receiving funds from overseas to run a media group with the alleged agenda of spreading foreign propaganda.
The investigation was initiated after a case was registered against NewsClick and its journalists on August 17. The move came following a report by The New York Times, which claimed that the website had received funds from an American millionaire who allegedly supported the spread of “Chinese propaganda.” NewsClick has denied these allegations.
The raids were conducted by the Enforcement Directorate, India’s financial crime control agency, as part of an investigation into suspected money laundering by NewsClick. Multiple homes of journalists and writers linked to the company were targeted. No arrests have been made thus far, and the search operations are ongoing.
The Press Club of India expressed deep concern over the raids, while the INDIA alliance, a coalition of opposition political parties, criticized the government for targeting not only the management but also junior employees and contributors. A spokesperson from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) justified the raids, stating that investigating agencies must assess foreign funding to media groups.
India’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 161st, its lowest ever, according to non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders. The government disputes these rankings, asserting that India has a vibrant and free press.
The tensions between India and China since 2020, including clashes between their militaries and subsequent bans on Chinese-owned apps, have strained relations between the two countries.