Delhi police raids on ‘The Wire’ editors excessive, journalists’ associations say

Several journalists’ associations expressed concern on Wednesday about the manner in which the Delhi police carried out searches and seizures at the office of Thread and the homes of four of its editors, claiming the action was excessive and disproportionate.

On Monday, the police raided the premises of ThreadFounding editors of Siddharth Varadarajan, MK Venu and Sidharth Bhatia, and associate editor Jahnavi Sen and news site business manager Mithun Kidambi. Officers seized their electronic devices based on a complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party social media chief Amit Malviya.

A First Information Report was filed by Delhi Police on October 31 against the four editors for cheating, forgery, defamation and criminal conspiracy over a series of retracted posts claiming that Instagram deleted, without review, all the posts that Malviya had flagged.

October 23, Thread had removed the articles and begun a review of its reporting and editorial processes. On October 29, the organization filed a complaint with the police against its researcher Devesh Kumar alleging that he had “fabricated and provided documents, emails and other items such as videos with the aim of harming Thread and its reputation.

Thread said police physically pushed his lawyer out of the Delhi office and seized two hard drives used by website account staff without giving a hash value or providing a cloned copy. A hash value is a unique number used to ensure that a device and its data have not been tampered with.

On Wednesday, the Editors Guild of India criticized “the haste with which police searches were carried out” in several locations and urged authorities not to use intimidation tactics in defiance of democratic principles.

He noted that the seizure of phones, computers and iPads from journalists’ homes and offices violated the rules of the investigation. The police searches were intimidating and alarming, the statement added.

“In addition, the digital devices of editors and journalists are believed to contain sensitive information relating to journalistic sources and stories in the process, the confidentiality of which may be seriously compromised during such seizures,” the statement said.

The association urged law enforcement to abide by investigative rules and ensure that the work of the news agency is not hampered.

The Press Club of India along with Delhi Union of Journalists, Press Association, Working News Cameraman Association, Indian Journalist Union, Digipub News India Foundation and Kerala Union of Working Journalists also said the police action of Delhi based on the request of a BJP spokesperson sounded like Vendetta.

“Such actions have a chilling effect on the rest of the media and also have an impact on freedom of expression,” they said.

Journalists’ associations also noted that the complaint against Thread was filed after the news website took down the articles on Meta and admitted serious failings.

ThreadRetracting Brihanmumbai’s articles along with a promise to conduct an internal review of editorial failings is one of the best principles of self-regulation, the Brihanmumbai Journalists’ Union said on Tuesday.

ThreadThe BJP’s admission of failings was quickly seized by the BJP as well as the Delhi Police to carry out raids is highly regrettable and deplorable,” a statement read. “Clearly vendetta politics are at play here, given Thread‘s as an independent and critical information portal.

The Mumbai Press Club said the case should have ended after Thread retracted the items. He noted that the news website has not been shy about publishing articles that criticize the current government.

“The latest police attacks are nothing but a backlash to teach the news network a lesson, send a chilling message and intimidate journalists who are critical of the ruling regime,” a Mumbai Press statement added. Club.

While noting ThreadBy way of apology, the press club said it takes nothing away from the news agency’s failure to verify its information.

“Fact-checking and seeking response from all stakeholders involved are normal processes that should have been enacted,” he said. “Even more for a medium that prides itself on upholding the ideals of good journalism.”

The body called for honest introspection because filing a criminal complaint against a researcher does not absolve editors from critically examining their actions.