New Delhi: The Press Club of India has come under the scanner of central investigation agencies over its alleged links to extremists and banned terrorist outfits.
A team of central Intelligence Bureau officials recently visited the Press Club of India (PCI), located in the heart of New Delhi, and collected information regarding the press meet organised by anti-national forces in the press club premises.
According to the sources, the IB officials also sought complete information about the press conferences and programmes organised by ultra-leftist and Islamist groups in the last couple of years.
On October 8, pro-Maoist outfits like the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPIML) Liberation organised a press conference at the Press Club of India. In the press meet, the AISA and CPIML leaders demanded a repeal of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
DU teachers Nandini Sundar, Nandita Narain and Jenny Rowena P, journalist Neha Dixit, Delhi riots accused Khalid Saifi’s wife Nargis, AISA Delhi secretary Neha Bora, CPIML Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and RJD MP Manoj Jha attended the press conference.
“The press meet held on October 8 was indeed organised by the banned PFI outfit, the Campus Front of India, under the garb of AISA,” said IB sources.
The controversial press meet was attended by the members of the banned PFI and CFI, and members of various journalist unions like DUJ and KUWJ.
Notably, after the ban on PFI and allied organisations like Campus Front of India (CFI), in the institutions like Jamia Millia Islamia, the CFI members had joined en-masse to the AISA.
There are allegations that the Press Club of India and other press clubs facilitate meetings and programmes of anti-national organisations. As members of PFI cannot hold meetings under the banner of their outfits, they largely depend on leftist-controlled press clubs to hold meetings and protests. Last month, in Kerala, the Kottayam Press Club allowed the PFI’s political arm SDPI, to hold a press conference. Despite the growing public outrage in the wake of the ban on PFI, the press club opened its premises for the SDPI and hosted their programme.
Siddique Kappan, a PFI mole who was masquerading as a media person in Delhi who was arrested on October 5, 2020, under UAPA for attempting to instigate communal riots in Hathras, was also a member of the Press Club of India. The investigation agencies had found that Kappan used his PCI connections to organise press meets for PFI and other outfits in the press club premises. Kappan was also the secretary of the Delhi unit of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ), a leftist media union facing vigilance probes for financial frauds.
The Press Club of India had extended support to Kappan and welcomed the Supreme Court order granting bail to him. “The Press Club of India welcomes the Supreme Court order allowing bail to journalist Siddique Kappan who was arrested on October 5, 2020, while on his way to Mathura to cover the rape and murder of a Dalit girl in Hathras,” read the statement issued by the PCI.
In October, the KUJW, which fights the legal battle for Kappan, announced a protest in front of the Press Club of India, demanding the release of the arrested PFI cadre. However, the KUWJ had to step back after the Delhi police denied permission for the pro-PFI event.