NEW DELHI (AP) — Officials from India’s Income Tax Department raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi on Tuesday, weeks after the British broadcaster broke the news. Controversial documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modisaid three members of the staff.
The employee requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly.
A team of tax authorities raided the BBC’s offices in both New Delhi and Mumbai, the Press Trust of India news agency reported, citing an unidentified official. They said the department was looking into documents related to the BBC’s business operations and those related to its India division.
Indian tax authorities declined to comment. The BBC was not immediately available for comment.
Last month, the BBC aired a documentary in the UK titled India: The Modi Problem, examining Modi’s role in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in western Gujarat. Modi was Prime Minister at the time. Over 1,000 people were killed.
Modi denied allegations that authorities under his supervision authorized or even encouraged the bloodshed, and said the Supreme Court had found no evidence to indict him. Last year, a court dismissed a petition filed by a Muslim victim questioning Modi’s exoneration.
The film’s description on the BBC’s website says that the second part of the two-part documentary “examines the performance of the Narendra Modi government following its 2019 re-election”.
The Indian government has banned the documentary, and authorities hastily shut down screenings and restricted clips on social media. Critics and political opponents accused it of an attack on press freedom.
The government used emergency powers under the Information Technology Act to block the program. Twitter and YouTube have removed many links to the documentary following government requests.
The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time called the documentary a “propaganda piece designed to promote a particularly unreliable narrative” that lacked objectivity. criticized as an attack on
In a statement at the time, the BBC said the documentary had been “vigorously researched” and contained a wide range of views and opinions.
“We have given the Indian government the right to respond to the issues raised in the series, but have refused to do so,” the statement said.
Last week, a right-wing Hindu nationalist petitioned the Supreme Court to ban the BBC program altogether. The court dismissed their plea as “absolutely nonsensical.”
The raid on the BBC’s offices was “undemocratic” and “smells like desperation and shows that the Modi government is afraid of criticism,” tweeted KC Venugopal, general secretary of the opposition Parliamentary Party. “We condemn these intimidation tactics in the harshest terms.”
In recent years, India’s Muslim minority has faced violence from Hindu nationalists encouraged by a prime minister who has said little about such attacks since he was first elected in 2014.
Human Rights Watch previously said the documentary ban reflected a broader crackdown on minorities under Modi.