Over 750 Prominent Figures Rally Behind NewsClick Amid Allegations: Defending Freedom of Expression

NewsClick: In a resounding show of support, more than 750 eminent individuals, including prominent historian Romila Thapar, noted economist Jean Dreze, and acclaimed actor Naseeruddin Shah, have joined forces to stand by a news website that has faced allegations of disseminating Chinese propaganda through questionable funding sources.

The allegations against NewsClick surfaced following a report published in The New York Times. In a unified gesture of solidarity, the diverse group of over 750 individuals has expressed their backing for NewsClick. They assert that the scrutiny faced by the news platform is an outright assault on the fundamental tenet of freedom of expression, which is enshrined within the Indian Constitution.

In a joint statement, the supporters affirmed, “The targeting of NewsClick amounts to an attack on the democratic principles of independent journalism, which plays a crucial role in informing readers about governmental shortcomings and ensuring accountability.”

Notable signatories to the statement include respected names such as Zoya Hasan, Jayati Ghosh, Harsh Mander, N Ram, Bezwada Wilson, Aruna Roy, Colin Gonsalves, Prashant Bhushan, Anand Patwardhan, and Ratna Pathak Shah, among others. The statement underlines that The New York Times report does not make any allegations of legal violations by NewsClick.

The controversy was also raised within the Parliament, with BJP MP Nishikant Dubey pointing to alleged foreign funding of NewsClick to foster an anti-India environment. He claimed to possess email exchanges between Left leader Prakash Karat and American billionaire Neville Roy Singham in connection with this matter. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur also joined in, suggesting a linkage between China, NewsClick, and the Congress through an “anti-India umbilical cord.” Thakur referred to The New York Times’ report, which indicated that China-linked entities were financially supporting the news portal.

Amidst these allegations, the Enforcement Directorate, as part of its ongoing criminal investigation, is examining claims of fraudulent foreign funds totaling over Rs 86 crore being infused into NewsClick’s holding company (PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt. Ltd.) from entities associated with Singham. The agency had initiated its inquiry with raids on NewsClick’s premises in September 2021 on money laundering charges. The investigation remains active, accompanied by legal proceedings between the concerned parties in the Delhi High Court.

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