The NWMI strongly condemns the blanket raids by the Delhi Police on the homes and offices of senior journalists, scientists, commentators and columnists of the news website, NewsClick. Among them were author Githa Hariharan, NewsClick editor Prabir Purkayastha, senior journalist Urmilesh, commentator Aunindyo Chakravarty, historian Sohail Hashmi, activist and NWMI member Teesta Setalvad, satirist Sanjay Rajoura and senior journalists Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Anuradha Raman.
The Delhi Police arrived with search warrants and detained several of them. Editors of Newsclick, Subodh Verma and Aditi Nigam, were also taken for questioning. The raids were conducted early on Tuesday morning in Delhi (across more than 30 locations) and in Mumbai, reportedly in relation to a case filed against Newsclick in August under several laws, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as well as Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Journalists Abhisar Sharma and Bhasha Singh took to social media to say their phones and laptops were seized by the police. Seizures of devices, without following the right procedures, not only violate their own right to privacy but also make their sources of information vulnerable.
The raids are reminiscent of the Emergency (1975-77), when the voices of those critical of the then ruling party were silenced through arrests, detentions and raids. Media freedoms in India have shrunk drastically over the last decade, according to the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF).
The NWMI stands in solidarity with the journalists and commentators targeted by the raids and demands that the government be transparent about its actions. NWMI also demands that stringent anti-terror laws such as the UAPA not be used indiscriminately against journalists and dissenters.
The Network of Women in Media, India
3 October 2023
Previous statements on press freedom (2023):