The Press Club of India on Saturday criticised the Delhi Police for arresting journalist Rajeev Sharma in an Official Secrets Act case for allegedly passing on information about the Indian Army’s deployment and the country’s border strategy to Chinese intelligence. It said that the police action against Sharma was “high-handed” and “mind-boggling”.
The club called out the Delhi Police for its “dubious” record. “We are astounded to hear of the arrest of Rajeev Sharma, a well-known independent journalist of long standing and a member of the Press Club of India,” it said in a statement. “This is on account of the dubious track record of the Special Branch. More generally also, the record of Delhi Police is hardly a shining one.”
The Press Club added that the police had taken action against Sharma based on “questionable considerations”. “On the basis of the statement of the police released to the media, we have no hesitation in saying that the police action is high-handed, and may be inspired by obscure or questionable considerations,’ it said.
The club added: “Rajeev Sharma’s six-day police remand, after his arrest on September 14 under the Official Secrets Act, evidently for relaying defence-related information to China, also appears mind-boggling. Sharma wrote on strategic affairs and may well have accessed routinely over-classified information on the Internet that is in the public domain.”
Sharma, a freelance journalist, was arrested on Monday by the Special Cell of the Delhi police. They alleged that he was found to be in possession of defence-related classified documents. He was produced before a court on Tuesday and sent to six-day police custody.
The police alleged that Sharma was being paid huge amounts of money by a Chinese woman and her Nepalese associate for the classified information. The two women have also been arrested.
The Press Club also gave examples of other journalists who had been falsely implicated in cases based on “trumped-up” charges.
The group also criticised the Delhi Police for arresting students and activists under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, in cases related to the large-scale communal violence that took place in the Capital in February. “Of late, Delhi Police, including its Special Branch, have made preposterous arrests under the lawless law called UAPA in which the word of the government is enough to keep an innocent person behind bars for long periods,” it said. “These have happened in matters relating to anti-CAA protests and the carefully designed communal killings in the so-called February 2020 riots in northeast Delhi.”