On September 10, officers from the Income Tax Department conducted a “survey” operation at the Newsclick office from 12 noon to midnight. The operation was conducted under Section 133A of the Income Tax Act. The IT team recorded the statement of Newsclick’s Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha; impounded his phone; and took away documents – what they called “loose papers” from the premises. They also took email dumps of Prabir, editor Pranjal, and various administrative and financial accounts related to Newsclick. Around 30 employees and support staff of Newsclick were in the office throughout the “survey”. Their phones were temporarily seized, and they were not allowed to use their computers and work.
This is not the first time Newsclick has been targeted by government agencies. The offices of Newsclick, as well as the residences of Prabir Purkayastha and other persons associated with us, were also raided earlier this year by the Enforcement Directorate. Newsclick has cooperated with the investigations by the Enforcement Directorate and Economic Offences Wing, and handed over all the documents they have asked for from time to time. Income Tax officials interrogated Prabir and Pranjal in June, and again, Newsclick provided the necessary documents.
The raid yesterday appears to relate to the same false and unfounded allegations being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate and the Economic Offences Wing, Delhi Police. We have these allegations challenged in the Courts.
These investigations by various agencies, and these selective allegations, are attempts to stifle the independent journalism of media organisations – including Newsclick. The Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(a) guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression, a right central to our work.
Newsclick would like to thank everyone who has expressed solidarity with us. We will not be intimidated. We will continue to do our work, and speak truth to power.