Days after the BBC came out with a documentary that questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the deadly riots in 2002 in Gujarat, the Income Tax Department surveyed its offices across the country on February 14.
Stating to be a “survey” as said by the Income Tax officials, the searches were conducted at the BBC office in Delhi and Mumbai. Moreover, the media reported the searches are being done as part of tax evasion investigation. Reports came out that the department was looking at documents related to the business operations of the company and those related to its Indian arm.
The survey might have vanished into thin air, if the BBC had not telecast its documentary that showed Modi in the dark light. The Centre had even ordered YouTube and Twitter to take down links sharing the documentary, calling it “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative”.
Modi and BJP Government have in the past been accused on of using allegations of financial misconduct to target its critics, including NGOs, journalists, news organisations and politicians.
In the latest BBC episode, the Opposition parties reacted strongly, stating the government has gone after BBC even though there have been demands of a probe into allegations raised against the Adani Group by the US based firm Hindenburg Research.
Calling it an “undeclared emergency,” the Congress said in a tweet “First came the BBC documentary, it was banned. Now IT has raided BBC. undeclared emergency.”
Congress General Secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said, “Here, we are demanding a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) on the Adani issue, but the government is after BBC. Vinaash kaale viprit buddhi (When doom approaches, a person’s intellect works against his interest)“.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra tweeted; reports of Income Tax raid at BBC’s Delhi office. Wow, really? How unexpected… Meanwhile, farsaan seva for Adani (Adani is served a Gujarati snack) when he drops in for a chat with Chairman @SEBI_India office. (sic)”
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti slammed the government saying, “Cause & effect of raids on the BBC Office is quite obvious. GOI is brazenly hounding those who speak the truth. Be it opposition leaders, media, activists or anyone else for that matter (sic)”.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said that the “surveys” were a declaration of a “vaicharik aapatkal” (ideological emergency).
While tweeting an image of news reports on the I-T “surveys”, the social media head of the Bharata Rashtra Samithi (BRS), Y Sathish Reddy, said “Modi gift to BBC”.
Meanwhile, the BJP slams Congress for criticising IT survey operation at BBC offices and says Congress should remember former prime minister Indira Gandhi had banned BBC.
SUPREME COURT AND BBC
In a recent development, the Supreme Court had last week orally queried how can a documentary affect the country, as it junked a plea seeking a complete ban on BBC in India over its documentary. A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and MM Sundersh dismissed the petition by terming it as “absolutely misconceived”.