In the early hours, Delhi police conducted a series of raids on the homes of several journalists, stand-up comedians, satirists, and commentators. These operations are part of an investigation into alleged “terror links” under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), specifically related to FIR number 224/2023 filed on August 17, 2023. The case invokes multiple sections of the UAPA, such as 13, 16, 17, 18, and 22, as well as sections 153(a) and 120(b) of the Indian Penal Code, which deal with promoting enmity between different groups and criminal conspiracy, respectively.
Although official details remain undisclosed, the raids conducted on figures including video journalist Abhisar Sharma, senior journalist Bhasha Singh, veteran journalist Urmilesh, Newsclick editor Prabir Purkayastha, writer Githa Hariharan, journalist Aunindyo Chakravarty, historian Sohail Hashmi, and satirist Sanjay Rajaura mirrored the sweeping actions seen during the Emergency in 1975. The homes of activist Teesta Setalvad and veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta were also reportedly searched, with Setalvad being questioned by Delhi police.
Notably, the police visited the residences of Newsclick employees across various positions and confiscated their electronic devices. The origins of the current FIR can be traced back to an August report by the New York Times. In this report, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey cited alleged funding from China to Congress leaders and NewsClick, claiming it aimed to create an “anti-India” environment.
The Press Club of India expressed concern over these raids, indicating plans to release a detailed statement addressing the issue. As the situation unfolds, it raises significant questions about freedom of the press and freedom of expression in the country, drawing attention to the potential implications of such actions on journalistic integrity and democratic values.
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