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Police in Delhi have conducted raids on the residences of several well-known journalists and authors as part of an investigation into the funding of the news website NewsClick.

Some individuals subjected to the raids have been charged under an anti-terrorism law, with their mobile phones and laptops seized. The investigation revolves around allegations that NewsClick received illegal funds from China, which the website has denied.

NewsClick, established in 2009, is an independent news and current affairs website known for its critical stance toward the government. In 2021, it faced a raid by tax authorities over accusations of violating India's foreign direct investment rules.

Among those reportedly targeted in the recent raids are Prabir Purkayastha, the editor of NewsClick, journalists Abhisar Sharma, Aunindyo Chakravarty, and Bhasha Singh, satirist Sanjay Rajoura, and historian Sohail Hashmi. Some of these individuals have been taken to police stations for questioning. Searches have also been conducted at NewsClick's office in Delhi.

Critics argue that the use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), an anti-terrorism law with stringent bail conditions, against journalists and writers is an attack on press freedom. Delhi Police spokesperson Suman Nalwa has not provided any comments regarding the raids, promising to share details when available.

The raids are reportedly connected to a case filed against NewsClick in August after a New York Times report alleged that the website had received funds from an American millionaire to propagate "Chinese propaganda." The report claimed that Neville Roy Singham had close ties to the "Chinese government media machine" and used nonprofit organizations and shell companies in his network to "finance its propaganda worldwide." NewsClick has vehemently refuted these allegations as false.

Sanjay Rajoura's lawyer, Ilin Saraswat, stated that police arrived at the comedian's residence at 6:30 AM local time on Tuesday. Despite not being named in the current investigation, Rajoura has previously collaborated with NewsClick on satirical videos. The police confiscated his laptop, two phones, old DVDs of his work, and some documents.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed power in 2014, numerous media outlets have been investigated for financial impropriety, raising concerns about press freedom in India. Earlier this year, tax officials searched BBC offices in India and questioned staff about the organization's business activities in the country. Similar investigations have been conducted against critical media outlets, including the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper in 2021. Reporters Without Borders has downgraded India's press freedom ranking, describing the situation as "very bad," and comparing it to countries like Tajikistan and Turkey. India now ranks 161st in the organization's press freedom index. Photo by Pulakit Singh, Wikimedia commons.