Days after controversy over a BBC documentary series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and allegations linked to the 2002 Gujarat riots, teams of officials from the Income Tax Department reached BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai as part of a tax evasion investigation.
The department is looking at documents related to the business operations of the company and those related to its Indian arm, said a PTI report quoting I-T officers. As part of a survey, the Income Tax Department only covers the business premises of a company and does not raid residences and other locations of its promoters or directors. According media reports, phones of some journalists were taken away.
Also read: SC dismisses plea seeking complete ban on BBC from operating in India
The Congress, reacting to the action, severely criticised the BJP government at the centre.
‘Survey not search’
Tax officials said this was a survey, not a search. “Our officers have gone to check account books, these are not searches,” said I-T sources. Media reports say that there are 60-70 I-T officers conducting the ‘survey’.
BBC was in the news recently over the two-part series, “India: The Modi Question”, which was taken down from public platforms last month. On January 21, the Centre, using emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, directed blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the controversial documentary.
Congress slams action
The Congress on Tuesday took a swipe at the government over the I-T survey, saying that while they are demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Adani issue, the Centre is after the BBC. Party general secretary Jairam Ramesh also used a Hindi idiom to attack the government, saying “Vinash kale, vipreet buddhi (When doom approaches, a persons intellect works against his interest).”
(With agency inputs)