India raids BBC office with taxes after critical Modi documentary



NEW DELHI — Indian tax authorities raided the BBC’s offices and seized journalists’ phones in a shocking and apparently retaliatory move. It comes weeks after a British broadcaster aired a polarizing documentary examining the rise of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian news outlets reported that more than 50 Indian officials raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai around noon. Two of his BBC journalists in New Delhi, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said a colleague’s phone had been confiscated.

and Tweetthe BBC said they were “fully cooperating” with the tax authorities, who are currently in offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

Censorship, arrests, blackouts. India is desperate to block the BBC documentary.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman, Gaurab Bhatia, told reporters at a conference that the BBC “must operate within Indian law”, calling it “corrupt”. is.

“BBC production has historically been tainted with hatred of India,” he said. “Our Constitution allows them to conduct journalism without prejudice, but let me show you how they use journalism as an excuse to announce their agenda.” Media with a hidden agenda” and “spitting poison” was unacceptable, he added.

The opposition parliamentary party loudly condemned the move against the BBC, with one member of parliament calling the BBC “stupid, childish and not even stupid”. Tweet.

“What are you telling the world, as the organizers of the G-20, that we are a volatile power, not a rising power? Whatever the bright spark, this is the Prime Minister’s worst enemy. I thought, ”Manish Tewari, a former minister, said of the information.

Raids raided less than a month after Modi government imposed unusual censorship measures “India: The Modi Problem” The BBC film resurfaces decades-old claims that Modi failed to stop bloody riots in Gujarat while he was prime minister in 2002.

After the documentary aired in the UK on 17 January, Indian authorities lashed out at the BBC for creating “propaganda” and cited emergency powers to force social media companies to remove links to the BBC’s videos. and detained a student protester who was organizing a viewing party on television. campuses nationwide.

In recent weeks, Modi’s supporters have questioned why the BBC, even though he was acquitted by an Indian judge in 2013 on charges of fomenting a riot that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. It is questionable whether or not has reexamined this issue.

Several right-wing Indian organizations, including Hindu Sena, have petitioned courts to ban the BBC, and other pro-government agencies, including Republic TV, have launched conspiracy theories that the British broadcaster is an agent of the Chinese Communist Party. circulated. (In China, the BBC is frequently criticized by government officials and its journalists are occasionally attacked by security forces.)

Indian media outlets that have published reports that anger the government often face tax scrutiny.

In 2021, tax authorities raided the offices of the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper group after Hindi-language broadsheets repeatedly challenged government accounts. coronavirus We reported on the pandemic, the bodies floating in the Ganges, and the photos of the overcrowded crematoriums on the front page.

The New Delhi Television Network, known for its independent reporting, was also investigated in 2017 for alleged financial fraud. Also, his Newsclick, a left-wing news outlet that published critical reports on subjects including billionaire Modi his Arian Gautam Adani, was accused in 2021 of: I receive money tied to China.

Fraud allegations targeting Gautam Adani spark nationalist backlash in India

India fell to 150th out of 180 countries in the 2022 Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders.

The Indian Editors Guild also condemned the raid, saying it “continued the trend of using government agencies to intimidate and harass media outlets critical of government policies and establishments.” “This is a trend that undermines constitutional democracy,” he added.

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