Delhi & Mumbai
On October 31, 2022, and November 1, 2022, the Delhi Police Crime Branch carried out raids at The Wire’s office and residences of Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan, Mr. MK Venu and Ms. Jahanvi Sen in Delhi and the residence of Mr. Siddharth Bhatia and Mr. Mithun Kidambi in Mumbai.
According to sources, as many as sixteen electronic devices were seized during the phones, the police also asked them to remove all passcodes from their phones and laptops, and to provide passwords of their official and personal email accounts. Some other staff members were asked for passwords to their official email accounts. One staff member was asked to give passwords to both official and personal email accounts. The Wire said in a public statement that all their staff cooperated with the police, however, one of their lawyers Mr. Shadan Farasat was physically manhandled by the police officials at The Wire’s office. Hash values for seized electronic devices were not provided to their owners.
Human Rights Defenders Alert - India sent an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission of India highlight our concern about the raids carried out by police officials on the basis of a defamation complaint. We consider these raids a form of intimidation by the State targeting an independent media outlet. We urged the Hon’ble Commission to direct its investigation wing and initiate an independent inquiry into the abuse of powers by the Delhi Police in this case of raids at multiple locations at the residences of The Wire’s functionaries and its office, seizure of electronic devices without providing hash values and accessing passwords of private and official emails.