The DCP of New Delhi claimed that police are conducting “security and anti-terrorist” checks throughout the national capital ahead of Independence Day on August 15.

Cop at The Wire office in DelhiSiddharth Vardarajan/Twitter
news Controversy Friday, July 23, 2021 - 19:44

Digital news publication The Wire’s Delhi office was visited by a policeman on July 23, Friday, just days after it, along with a consortium of 15 other global publications, revealed a list of people believed to be targeted by the Pegasus spyware. Founding editor of The Wire, Siddharth Vardarajan tweeted, “Not just another day at the office for The Wire after Pegasus Project. Policeman arrived today with inane inquiries. 'Who's Vinod Dua?' 'Who's Swara Bhaskar?' 'Can I see your rent agreement?' 'Can I speak to Arfa?'”

The DCP of New Delhi replied to Vardarajan saying that this was part of “security and anti-terrorist measures such as tenant verification, checking of guest houses etc are being taken throughout Delhi” in the run up to Independence Day, August 15. “Local beat officer had gone to verify an office which didn't bear any signboard at the entrance,” the DCP added, attaching a photo. Vardarajan responded saying that the Mandir Marg Police Station knew The Wire’s office and that the sign posted by the DCP was from the other side of the building, which is kept locked.

“But please speak to Ct Mahesh [the police official who visited the office], as I did, and find out why he was asking about Vinod Dua, Swara, Arfa, some Asif, and mumbling something about “koi Kanpur case” (“Some Kanpur case”). All very strange,” Vardarajan said.

Speaking to TNM, Vardarajan said that the incident happened in the afternoon when he was not in the office, and got to know about it from his colleagues. The whole exchange lasted for around 20 minutes, he said. “The policeman was asking very odd questions. He even asked that we give it in writing that Vinod Dua, Arif Khan and Swara Bhasker don’t work for The Wire. My colleague refused. What does all this have to do with routine verification,” he questioned.

Journalist Vinod Dua was booked under sedition, among other charges, last year for making certain allegations against the Prime Minister. The Supreme Court, last month, quashed the sedition case against him, and said the section shouldn’t be invoked for criticising the government. Actor Swara Bhasker is known for being vocal about several issues and being critical of the BJP-led Union government.

He added that he does not know the purpose behind the visit. “They are foolish to think that something like this will intimidate The Wire. We just found it really strange,” Vardarajan said.

Read: Explained: The revelations from the Pegasus Project, and who were those hacked

Read: What is Pegasus, how to protect against it and other FAQs answered

Read: Pegasus snoopgate: Numbers of Anil Ambani, former CBI Chief Anil Verma on the list

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