'How can a journalist be accused of terrorism when there is no overt act of terror committed?'
"This is an act of desperation. To take the best journalists and detain them, to go into their bedrooms, take their mobiles and their computers," Senior Supreme Court lawyer Colin Gonsalves, who has constantly fought for human rights, tells Jyoti Punwani about the NewsClick raids.
What do you make of the anti-terrorist act UAPA being applied against journalists?
UAPA is on the face of it not applicable.
Look at the sections used: Committing a terrorist act and raising funds for terrorist acts.
How can a journalist be accused of terrorism when there is no overt act of terror committed? A journalist's work is all in the public domain. Examine it and show where it promotes terrorism.
Can words be terroristic? Can the publication of an article be terroristic?
What do these journalists working at NewsClick have to do with the funding of the Web site they work for? How can they be accused of funding terrorist acts?
Even the charge against the director of NewsClick has to be very specific. It must say that 'You took a decision to take money from a foreign source and you took that money and used it to promote terrorism.' Where has he done that?
Let's stretch this to the utmost, let's take the worst case scenarios.
Even suppose China is funding NewsClick, is it illegal for a company to take money from China?
Let's go further: Suppose NewsClick is taking money from China and making human rights films which are accurate and which show the human rights violations taking place in India, is that illegal?
Another extreme scenario: Suppose I'm a company taking money from China and doing propaganda for the Chinese government -- is that illegal?
To charge me for terrorism and funding terrorism you must show that I took money for a legitimate purpose and then used it for terrorist acts.
They were reportedly given a questionnaire that asked them about their coverage of the farmers' agitation, and of the Shaheen Bagh agitation.
There you have it. This is a direct attack on the work NewsClick is doing. Their only overt act was publishing articles critical of the government. This is an attempt to stop people criticising the government. But that falls under free speech, which the Supreme Court has upheld time and again. The only line drawn is at hate speech and defamation.
This is an act of desperation. This government went across the country and bought over news channels. It compromised editors and got them to turn those journalists out of their jobs who were critical of the government. They thought they had the whole information distribution network under control and then comes a web site like NewsClick.
Well, these raids are certainly scary.
Not at all. It is they who are scared, not the journalists. Journalists are constantly writing about Adani, about SEBI, about Manipur. This is the action of a scared government to take the best journalists and detain them, to go into their bedrooms, take their mobiles and their computers. These acts show that their double engine is spluttering and going out of steam.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com