Journalist Raids In India: US Calls For Freedom Of Expression, Refrains From Commenting On Newsclick
India-West News Desk
WASHINGTON, DC – While acknowledging reports regarding purported connections between Newsclick and China, Vedant Patel, Principal Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department in a routine briefing here said the US cannot comment on the accuracy of the claims.
Indian agencies have claimed Newsclick may have connections to a Chinese operation funded through an American businessman’s network. Patel said the US was aware of these concerns.
On a question about whether the raids conducted were an infringement on press freedom, Patel emphasized, “The U.S. Government strongly supports the vital role of the media globally, including social media, in a thriving and free democracy. We raise concerns on these matters with the Indian Government, as well as with other countries around the world, through our diplomatic engagements, which are at the core of our bilateral relationships.”
He added, “We have urged the Indian Government, and we do so with other countries as well, about the importance of respecting the human rights of journalists, including safeguarding freedom of expression both online and offline.”
Before dawn on October 4, Delhi Police gathered over 200 police personnel to prepare for an extensive operation spanning more than 30 locations in Noida, Delhi, Mumbai among others, targeting NewsClick and its journalists.
Journalists Urmilesh, Aunindyo Chakravarty, Abhisar Sharma, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, along with historian Sohail Hashmi, were released in the evening after extensive inquiries for hours.
During the questioning at Special Cell police station in Lodhi Colony, the police presented them with a list of 25 inquiries encompassing various topics, such as their international trips, involvement in protests the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, and participation in the farmers’ agitation, as per sources.
Notably, no arrests have been made during the ongoing searches primarily focused on the Delhi-NCR region.
Meanwhile, several media organizations – Foundations for Media Professionals, Network of Women in Media India, Chandigarh Press Club, National Alliance of Journalists, Delhi Union of Journalists, Kerala Union of Working Journalists, Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists, Free Speech Collective, Mumbai Press Club, Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists, Press Association of India, and Guwahati Press Club – have written to the Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on October 4 seeking guidelines on police seizures of electronic devices of journalists.
“The fact is that today, a large section of journalists in India finds itself working under the threat of reprisal. And it is imperative that the judiciary confronts power with fundamental truth — that there is a constitution to which we are all answerable” the letter said.
The letter referred to the October 3 raids by the Special Cell of Delhi Police on the houses of 46 journalists, editors, writers, and professionals seemingly connected to the online news portal NewClick.
The media organizations further urged the CJI to evolve guidelines for the interrogation of journalists and for seizures from them.
The letter also called for finding ways to ensure accountability of state agencies and individual officers who are found overstepping the law or willfully misleading courts with “vague and open-ended investigations.” (with inputs from IANS)