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Delhi Police searches The Wire office, homes of editor Varadarajan, 3 journalists in Meta controversy

The searches came days after an FIR was lodged by BJP's Amit Malviya against the portal & its journalists in connection with reports on how Malviya had special privileges at Meta.

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New Delhi: The Delhi Police Monday conducted searches at news portal The Wire’s office, and searched homes of its founder Siddharth Varadarajan, editors MK Venu, Jahnavi Sen as well as Sidharth Bhatia.

According to sources, phones and other electronic devices were seized during the searches, including from The Wire office. No one has been detained yet. Varadarajan confirmed to ThePrint that the police teams have also searched The Wire office.

The journalists were served notice under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), under which police have the authority to conduct searches/seizures following the due process.

The searches took place days after an FIR was lodged by BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya against the news portal and its journalists in connection with a series of reports, which were subsequently retracted, mentioning how Malviya had special privileges at Meta, the social media giant that owns Facebook and Instagram.

The FIR was filed with the Delhi Police’s Crime Branch against Vardharjan, Venu, Bhatia and Sen under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery with the purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for harming reputation), 471 (using forged document), 500 (defamation), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intention).

Sources in the Delhi Police confirmed that the searches were conducted in connection with the case lodged by Malviya and as part of the investigation by the crime branch.

Neither Varadarajan nor Venu could be reached for comments by ThePrint.

Earlier Saturday, Varadarajan had filed a complaint against TheWire’s former employer Devesh Kumar alleging fabrication and forgery of documents and evidence as part of their Meta stories.

The complaint accuses Kumar of fabricating and supplying documents, emails and video with a “view to damage” TheWire’s reputation. It also mentions that Kumar was employed on a month-to-month remuneration basis from April 2021 to July 2022 as a consultant by TheWire.

In the now retracted reports, The Wire had claimed that the social media giant allowed Malviya, through its XCheck programme, to take down some 700 social media posts that he deemed were critical of the BJP. The stories cited source-based Meta documents which were denied by the social media giant.

“It is clear that The Wire and some unknown persons entered into a criminal conspiracy with intent to malign and tarnish my reputation, deliberately inserted my name into a story, and fabricated evidence to implicate me. I am left with no option other than to seek legal remedies,” Malviya had said in a statement Friday.

(This is an updated version of the copy.)

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