Indian government raids BBC offices after documentary critical of Modi

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NEW DELHI — Indian tax authorities raided the BBC and seized its journalists’ telephones in a shocking — and apparently retaliatory — transfer Tuesday in opposition to the British broadcaster weeks after it aired a polarizing documentary inspecting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise.

Two BBC journalists in New Delhi, talking on the situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t licensed to talk publicly, mentioned their colleagues’ telephones had been being confiscated. Indian media shops reported that greater than 50 Indian officers raided the BBC’s workplaces in New Delhi and Mumbai round midday Tuesday.

An Indian official acquainted with the case confirmed the monetary investigation of the BBC, talking on the situation of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the scenario.

In a tweet, the BBC confirmed that tax authorities had been of their New Delhi and Mumbai workplaces. “We hope to have this case resolved as quickly as doable,” it mentioned.

Censorship, arrests, power cuts. India scrambles to block BBC documentary.

Gaurav Bhatia, a spokesman for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Occasion, instructed reporters the BBC “should work inside India legal guidelines” and referred to as the group “corrupt” with out providing specifics, as a substitute itemizing a litany of perceived issues with its protection.

“The BBC’s work has traditionally been tainted with its hatred for India,” Bhatia mentioned. “Our structure permits them to do unbiased journalism, however let me present you the way they use journalism as a pretext to place ahead their agenda.”

The raids passed off lower than a month after the Modi authorities took extraordinary measures to censor “India: The Modi Question,” a BBC movie that resurfaced decades-old allegations that Modi didn’t cease a bloody riot in Gujarat state whereas he served as chief minister in 2002.

After the documentary aired in Britain on Jan. 17, Indian authorities lashed out on the BBC for producing “propaganda,” cited emergency powers to pressure social media corporations to take away hyperlinks to the BBC’s movies, and detained scholar protesters who had been organizing viewing events on campuses throughout the nation.

In latest weeks, Modi’s supporters have questioned why the BBC revisited the difficulty although he was cleared in 2013 by Indian judges of prices that he had abetted the riot, which killed greater than 1,000 folks, largely Muslims.

Some Indian right-wing organizations, together with the Hindu Sena, have petitioned the courts to ban the BBC, whereas different pro-government shops, together with Republic TV, have circulated a conspiracy concept that the British broadcaster is an agent of the Chinese language Communist Occasion. (In China, the BBC is incessantly criticized by authorities officers and its journalists often assaulted by safety forces.)

Indian media shops which have revealed studies drawing the federal government’s ire have usually confronted tax scrutiny.

Fraud claims targeting Gautam Adani provoke nationalist backlash in India

In 2021, tax authorities raided the workplaces of the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper group after the Hindi-language broadsheet repeatedly challenged the federal government narrative about its profitable dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic, reported on corpses floating within the Ganges River and revealed front-page pictures of crowded funeral pyres.

The New Delhi Tv community, recognized for its unbiased reporting, was additionally investigated over alleged monetary malfeasance in 2017. And Newsclick, a left-leaning outlet that has revealed crucial studies on topics together with billionaire and Modi ally Gautam Adani, was accused in 2021 of receiving cash tied to China.

Within the 2022 version of the annual press freedom index revealed by Reporters With out Borders, India fell to a hundred and fiftieth place out of 180 international locations.

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