India raids BBC offices for critical Modi documentary over tax burden


NEW DELHI – Indian tax authorities raided the BBC’s offices and confiscated its journalists’ phones in a stunning – and apparently retaliatory – strike on the British broadcaster on Tuesday, weeks after it aired a polarizing documentary detailing the rise of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi examined.

Indian media reported that more than 50 Indian officers raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai around midday. Two BBC journalists in New Delhi, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said their colleagues’ phones were being confiscated.

in one tweet, the BBC said they are now “fully cooperating” with tax authorities at their offices in New Delhi and Mumbai. “We hope that this situation will be resolved as soon as possible.”

Censorship, arrests, blackouts. India scrambles to block BBC documentary

Gaurav Bhatia, a spokesman for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, told reporters at a conference that the BBC “must operate within Indian law” and called the organization “corrupt” without giving details, instead listing a litany of perceived problems their reporting.

“The BBC’s work has historically been tainted with its hatred of India,” he said. “Our constitution allows them unbiased journalism, but let me show you how they use journalism as an excuse to advance their agenda.” He added that media outlets that “have a hidden agenda” and “spit out poison” don’t can be tolerated.

The opposition Congress party has loudly condemned the move against the BBC, with one MP calling it “idiotic, childish and beyond silly”. tweet.

“As hosts of the G-20, what are we telling the world that we are not an emerging great power, but an uncertain power. Whatever bright spark she has dreamed up is the Prime Minister’s worst enemy,” said Manish Tewari, who was once the Minister of Information.

The raids came less than a month after the Modi government took extraordinary measures to censor India: The Modi Question, a BBC film that resurfaced decades-old claims that Modi had failed to end a bloody riot stop in the state of Gujarat while he was serving as chief minister in 2002.

After the documentary aired in the UK on January 17, Indian authorities cracked down on the BBC for producing “propaganda”, invoking emergency powers to force social media companies to link to the BBC’s videos remove, and arrested student protesters who organized parties across campuses across the country.

In recent weeks, Modi’s supporters have questioned why the BBC has taken up the issue again, even though Indian judges acquitted him in 2013 of supporting the uprising that killed more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims.

Some right-wing Indian organizations, including the Hindu Sena, have asked the courts to ban the BBC, while other pro-government broadcasters, including Republic TV, have promoted a conspiracy theory that the British broadcaster is an agent of the Chinese Communist Party. (In China, the BBC is often criticized by government officials, and its journalists are occasionally attacked by security forces.)

Indian media outlets that have published reports that have drawn the government’s ire have often faced tax audits.

In 2021, tax authorities raided the offices of newspaper group Dainik Bhaskar after the Hindi-language broadsheet repeatedly questioned the government’s account of its successful handling of the coronavirus pandemic, reported on bodies floating in the Ganges and published photos of crowds on the front page Pyre.

The New Delhi Television Network, known for its independent reporting, was also under investigation in 2017 over alleged financial wrongdoing. And Newsclick, a left-leaning newspaper that has published critical reports on issues including billionaire and Modi ally Gautam Adani, was accused of receiving money tied to China in 2021.

Cheating allegations against Gautam Adani provoke nationalist backlash in India

In the 2022 edition of Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index, India fell to 150th out of 180 countries.

India’s Editors Guild also condemned the raids, describing them as “a continuation of a trend in using government agencies to intimidate and harass press organizations critical of government policies or the ruling establishment”. It added that “this is a trend that is undermining constitutional democracy”.

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