NewsClick row: Purkayastha, Chakravarty sent to 10-day judicial custody

New Delhi: A Delhi court Tuesday sent to 10-day judicial custody NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and human resources department head Amit Chakravarty, arrested in a case lodged under anti-terror law UAPA over allegations that the news portal received money to spread pro-China propaganda.
The two were produced before Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur around 2:50 PM. The prosecution sought 10 days judicial custody for the duo, which was firmly opposed by Purkayastha’s counsel, who asserted “prima facie” no case was made out against his client.
“What terrorist act have I committed? How can I as a journalist commit such an act? What is the allegation in the FIR? That we have done critical reporting of(government’s) Covid policy and farmers protest. Is that terrorism?” the lawyer said.
The counsel said if there was even an iota of doubt about their guilt, sending them to judicial custody will be a “travesty of justice”.
The counsel for Chakravarty argued he was not a journalist nor had he received any payment.
“There is no such allegation that there is a map of India, published by newsclick, that shows India without Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh,” he said.
Countering the arguments, the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Atul Shrivastava said the case was at a stage when evidence was still being collected, and the prosecution has sought judicial custody for the accused in all “fairness”.
The Special Cell of Delhi Police had arrested Purkayastha and Chakravarty on October 3. Police also sealed NewsClick’s office in Delhi. According to the FIR, a large amount of funds to the news portal came from China to “disrupt the sovereignty of India” and cause disaffection against the country.
It also alleged Purkayastha conspired with a group — People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS) — to sabotage the electoral process during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Raids were conducted at 88 locations in Delhi and seven in other states on October 3 on the suspects named in the FIR and those that surfaced in the analysis of data, police said.
Around 300 electronic gadgets were also seized from the offices of NewsClick and residences of the journalists who were examined. Following the raids, 46 individuals, including nine female journalists, were questioned by the Special Cell in Delhi and NCR.
The Delhi High Court Monday reserved its order on pleas by Purkayastha and Chakravarty challenging their arrest and the subsequent 7-day police remand.

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