India: NewsClick arrests are 'latest attempt to decimate' independent media

Two members of the news site arrested after series of raids yesterday, with 46 journalists questioned in total

Authorities using counter-terrorism law to target journalists
 
‘The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is repeatedly weaponised by the Indian authorities to intimidate and harass journalists’ - Aakar Patel

 
Responding to the arrests of two members of the Indian NewsClick news site - founder Prabir Purkayastha and head of human resources Amit Chakravarty - under the country’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after a series of raids on the homes and offices of several journalists in Delhi and Mumbai yesterday, Aakar Patel, Chair of the Board at Amnesty International India, said:

“Journalism is not a crime. The NewsClick raids and the arrest of Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty are the latest attempts by the Indian government to decimate independent and critical media. 
 
“The authorities must immediately release Prabir Purkayastha and Amit Chakravarty and allow them to carry out their work without any reprisals.
 
“The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is repeatedly weaponised by the Indian authorities to intimidate and harass journalists, human rights defenders and activists, violating their rights of freedom of expression and association. 
 
“The authorities must stop targeting independent media and immediately release any journalists detained on trumped-up or politically-motivated charges and solely for their critical reporting.
 
“In the absence of a robust data protection law in India, the confiscation of phones and laptops of the NewsClick journalists also raises grave concerns over targeted digital surveillance by the Indian government. The grave attacks on human rights must stop.”

Counter-terrorism law used to silence journalists 

The homes and offices of reporters, consultants, editors and contributors associated with the organisation NewsClick were raided under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act - India’s main counter-terrorism law - for allegedly raising funds for terrorist acts and promoting enmity between different groups, as well as alleged criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code. 
 
According to Delhi Police, in total 46 journalists were questioned, two were arrested and their phones, laptops and other electronic devices seized for further examination. The NewsClick Delhi office was also sealed off. In 2021, NewsClick was also raided by India’s Enforcement Directorate which investigates alleged crimes under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Foreign Exchange Management Act. 
 
Newsclick is an independent digital news platform which has been critical of the government of India and consistently raised human rights issues, including crackdowns on students and violence against minorities. 

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