The Delhi Police Special Cell has issued summons to five persons in connection with its anti-terrorism case against NewsClick, including American businessman Neville Roy Singham and two journalists who wrote for the news website, Anand Mangnale and Pavan Kulkarni, reported The Indian Express.

Others who have been summoned are Singham’s business partner Jason Pfetcher and Vijay Prashad, the executive director of a think tank named Tricontinental.

This came 10 days after NewsClick founder and editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha was released from Delhi’s Tihar jail, after the Supreme Court declared that his arrest was “invalid”.

Purkayastha had been arrested on October 3 along with NewsClick’s head of human resources Amit Chakraborty, after raids by the Delhi Police on over 40 NewsClick staffers and contributors. He has been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

In January, Chakraborty became a government witness and was pardoned in the case. On May 6, he was released from judicial custody by the Delhi High Court. He has claimed in a statement to the police that Purkayastha “gave money to Anand Mangnale with the direction to give it further to [jailed student activist] Sharjeel Imam for inciting the Delhi Riots of 2020”.

“Some amounts from the funds was also given to Students’ Federation of India activist Pavan Kulkarni to instigate protestors and create violence during Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens protests,” Chakraborty has also claimed. Until April 2023, Kulkarni was a regular contributor to NewsClick.

Mangnale, who confirmed to The Indian Express that he had received the summons, dismissed Chakraborty’s claims as “nonsense”.

“Delhi Police is painting doing normal jobs as a criminal conspiracy,” Mangnale told the newspaper. “As a citizen of India, I was against the divisive CAA law…and as a consultant with NewsClick, I was helping reporters from NewsClick to cover different protests. Prabir giving me money to give to Sharjeel Imam and pushing riots and all is not only complete fabrication but also laughable.”

The Delhi Police’s chargesheet in the case alleges that Purkayastha and Singham had entered into a “service agreement” with Tricontinental, reported The Indian Express.

The chargesheet said: “Email communications between Singham, Vijay Prashad, Prabir and their associates established that Singham was actively pursuing the China line on Covid-19, despite mounting criticism of the same from the international community. Singham is seen clearly nudging Prabir and the PPK NewsClick team to peddle the Chinese version.”

Singham is alleged to have funnelled over Rs 92 crore into NewsClick’s operations between 2018 and 2023, through offshore companies, to facilitate the dissemination of Chinese propaganda. According to the Delhi Police, Singham received money from someone who was “either China sponsored or a part of the Chinese Deep State”.

The funds were used by NewsClick to allegedly propagate “information warfare” in order to “subvert [India’s] psyche” on behalf of the Chinese government. This was allegedly done through, among other things, funding Naxalite and Kashmiri separatist organisations, spreading a disinformation campaign on Covid-19, the “stoking and sustaining” of the 2020 Delhi riots and fomenting the farmers’ protest movement across India.

The Delhi Police’s case is listed for arguments on May 31.

Also read: Terror, separatism, rioting: NewsClick chargesheet makes sweeping allegations without clear proof