India: IJU Condemns IT Raids On BBC Offices14 Feb, 2023
The Indian Journalists Union condemns in the strongest terms the IT raids conducted on the BBC’s New Delhi and Mumbai offices. The action, said the Union, smacks of vendetta against the broadcaster as it comes weeks after it aired “India: The Modi Question,” a two-part documentary critical of Prime Minister Modi, who was then Chief Minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots.
On Tuesday, a BBC Spokesperson said: “The IT authorities are currently at BBC offices, and we are fully cooperating. We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.” IT officials told media the ‘survey’ was part of a tax evasion probe into BBC’s business operations in India and several accounts and financial files were seized. Documents and phones of many journalists were confiscated, and police prevented people from entering/ leaving the buildings.
A BJP spokesperson described BBC as “most corrupt organisation in the world” and accused it of “venomous, shallow and agenda-driven reporting” and engaging in “anti-India propaganda.” He said the raids were ‘lawful and the timing had nothing to do with the government…If any company or organisation is working in India, they have to comply with the Indian law. Why are you scared if you are adhering to the law? The department should be allowed to do their work.”
In a statement, IJU President and former Member of Press Council of India Geetartha Pathak and Secretary General and International Federation of Journalists’ Vice President Sabina Inderjit rubbished the spokesperson’s claims saying the raids have everything to do with the government. First, the I&B Ministry blocked the documentary on social media attacking freedom of speech and expression and now the raids are undoubtedly aimed to intimidate and harass the broadcaster and its journalists. Such actions said the Union put a big question mark on the government’s commitment to press freedom as the world’s largest democracy. The Union demanded the government refrain from such vindictive actions and let the media to its work, if it had nothing to hide.