BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai are being surveyed by income tax department officials, owing to alleged taxation non-compliance issues.
Documents and phones of several journalists and employees in the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices were taken and the offices were sealed.
The BBC confirmed the raids at the offices and said it was fully cooperating, saying ‘We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.’
The survey comes as the BBC is at the heart of a controversy in India over a two-part documentary series, India: The Modi Question, which focused on the events that transpired during and after Hindu-Muslim riots that engulfed Gujarat in 2002 and left more than 2,000 people dead. Mr Modi was Chief Minister of the state then.
The Modi government cracked down on the documentary, calling it a ‘propaganda piece,’ with social media platforms being prohibited from sharing any clips or tweets.
Mr Modi has been dogged for years by allegations of his role in the 2002 riots. In 2005, the US denied Mr Modi a diplomatic visa and revoked his existing tourist/business visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes a foreign government official who is responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom ineligible for an American visa, according to a New York Times report.
The decision was reversed after a clean chit was given to Mr Modi, by the Special Investigation Team investigating the 2002 riots, which submitted its closure report on February 8, 2012, saying there was no prosecutable evidence against Modi and the 63 others.
Mr Modi went on to become India’s 14th Prime Minister and the Supreme Court of India upheld the SIT verdict, in 2012 and again in 2022.
The Modi government accuses the BBC of bias and a ‘colonial mindset,’ pointing out that Modi was cleared of all charges.
The BBC has stood firm by the documentary, stating that it was ‘rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards.’
The survey was criticized by members of the opposition.
‘At the time India holds the presidency of the G20 nations, PM Modi continues to brazenly show India’s slide into authoritarianism and dictatorship’ said Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi in a tweet.
The BBC has been under increased public scrutiny in India since the documentary was first released. Ther has also been a petition to the Supreme court to have the broadcaster banned in India, which was dismissed by the judges.
‘The truth emerges despite a thousand conspiracies around it. They are after Modi since 2002. But every time, Modi Ji comes out stronger & more popular’ Shah said in an interview to news agency ANI.
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