NewsClick, others went to great Lengths to paint CAA as Discriminatory Law Targeting Muslims: Delhi Police charge sheet

Alleging its role in the riots stemming out of the CAA protests, the Delhi Police’s charge sheet against NewsClick Founder and Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha, claimed that its probe revealed a deep-rooted common conspiracy by the news portal and others “aimed at a deliberate creation of a false narrative against the (Citizenship Amendment) Act”.

“The accused, Prabir Purkayastha and his reporters/employees went to great lengths to paint the CAA as a discriminatory law that targeted Muslims in the country by stripping them of their citizenship rights,” the charge sheet said.

The end result of this deliberate misinformation campaign was seen from the beginning of December 2019 and ran up to February 2020 in the physical manifestation of the deadly Delhi riots, stated.

“Through their biased and malicious reporting masquerading as news, PPK NewsClick sought to sow seeds of discontent and disharmony in society. Their articles distorted the facts surrounding the CAA, leading to a sense of fear and unease among Muslims in the country,” it said.

A court here on Tuesday took cognisance of Delhi Police’s first charge sheet filed against Purkayastha over allegations that the news portal took money to spread pro-China propaganda. The Special Cell of Delhi Police on March 30 filed it under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Additional Sessions Judge Hardeep Kaur of Patiala House Courts said there was sufficient evidence against the accused in the case, and directed the prosecution to supply a copy of the charge sheet to Purkayastha.

The matter will come up for argument on charges on May 31.

As per the chargesheet, a series of retrieved emails brought on record indicate the role of Purkayastha and his associates in the manipulation of information during the farmer’s agitation of 2020-2021, in order to create a false narrative against the established state.

The prosecution has alleged that the emails are nothing else but a “direct attack on the democratic ethos of India, preserved and nurtured by its Constitution”.

“It is a call to abrogate the path of electoral politics and resort to tough (violent) street battles which only, can, in the words of the author, liberate the subaltern masses,” the charge sheet read.

Police also claimed that the news portal was utilised to spread misinformation and false narratives in an effort to interfere in the democratic election process of 2019.

“It has been found that the platform was used to disseminate articles containing inaccurate claims and narratives that were designed to undermine the policies of State and support anti-national forces,” it stated.

Accused Purkayastha, Neville Roy Singham and their other associates have been alleged of being members of the International People’s Assembly (IPA), which, as per the charge sheet, has the purpose to “assemble the far-Left forces/individuals and intellectuals to propagate the Left-Wing extremist ideology in the world”, and has various regional secretariats across the world.

“Among others, ‘peoples dispatch’ is one of the portals used by the International People’s Assembly to propagate mass movements in different countries,” the police claimed.

Previously, the police had informed the court that it had obtained all the necessary sanctions for the prosecution of the accused in the NewsClick case.

Special Public Prosecutor Akhand Pratap Singh had said that three different sanction orders under section 45 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and under Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) have been secured, which are being filed in the form of supplementary charge sheets. Along with Purkayastha, PPK Newsclick Studio Pvt Ltd (news portal) has also been made an accused.

The judicial custody of Purkayastha and HR head Amit Chakravarty has also been extended.

On January 9, the court granted permission to Chakravarty to become an approver in the case after he had filed an application seeking pardon. He claimed to possess material information, which he was willing to disclose to the Delhi Police.

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According to official sources, the charge sheet also contains information regarding 480 electronic devices confiscated during the various raids conducted during the probe.

Purkayastha has been accused of accepting foreign funds to destabilise the country, sources said.

The sources told IANS that Purkayastha has been identified as the primary suspect, while Chakravarty has been granted the role of a witness.

As per the FIR filed by the Delhi Police on August 17 last year, substantial sums of money were clandestinely transferred from China through a convoluted route and then utilised to disseminate paid news articles deliberately criticising India’s domestic policies and developmental initiatives while endorsing, advocating, and defending policies and initiatives of the Chinese government.

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