Bbc: IT survey at BBC: Opposition decries ‘intimidation’, BJP accuses broadcaster of ‘venomous’ propaganda | India News

NEW DELHI: Opposition parties on Tuesday slammed the government over the Income Tax department’s survey operations at BBC offices as “heights of dictatorship” and “intimidation tactics”, while the ruling BJP put up a staunch defence of the action and accused the British broadcaster of unleashing “venomous” propaganda against India.
As the Income Tax probe into the alleged tax evasion of the international media group sparked an outcry from opposition parties, the BJP said at a presser that the “timing of the action was not decided by any government or outside power” and the agency should be allowed to do its work.
The Income Tax Department conducted a survey operation at the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai as part of an investigation into alleged tax evasion, officials said. The development came weeks after the broadcaster aired a two-part documentary, “India: The Modi Question“, with the Centre blocking access to it at various social media platforms.
Some opposition parties linked the IT action with the documentary.
The BBC said it is “fully cooperating” with the Income Tax authorities who are at its offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and hoped that the situation will be resolved “as soon as possible”.
BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia was trenchant in his criticism of the British Broadcasting Corporation, calling it the “most corrupt” organisation which has little regard for India’s Constitution while it works from here. He also lashed out at the opposition parties for “politicising” the investigation agency’s work.
He claimed that the BBC has a “tainted and black history of working with malice against India”. “BBC propaganda and Congress agenda go together. Congress should remember that its own leader and former prime minister Indira Gandhi had imposed a ban on the BBC,” he said, hitting out at the main opposition party.
He cited its past reports, including the one which described a terrorist as a “charismatic young militant”, a likely reference to slain terror operative Burhan Wani, and allegedly called Holi a “filthy” festival.
The Congress termed as “intimidation tactics” the Income Tax survey operation at the BBC offices and alleged that the action shows that the Modi government is scared of criticism.
Its president Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Time and again, there has been an assault on freedom of Press under Modi Government. This is done with brazen and unapologetic vengeance to strangulate remotely critical voices.”
“No Democracy can survive if institutions are used to attack Opposition and Media. People will resist this,” he said in a tweet.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that while the party is demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe on the Adani issue, the “government is after the BBC”.
He also used a Hindi idiom to attack the government, saying “Vinash Kale, Viprit Buddhi” (When doom approaches, a person’s intellect works against his interest).
The Aam Aadmi Party alleged that the IT actions show that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached the “heights of dictatorship”.
“First, imposed a ban on the BBC documentary. Now raids at their offices. Don’t forget Modi ji, Hitler’s dictatorship also came to an end. Your dictatorship will also end,” AAP Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who is also the party’s national spokesperson, said in a tweet in Hindi, reacting sharply to the survey.
“Modi ji, you have reached the heights of dictatorship,” the AAP leader said.
The CPI(M) also hit out at the Centre as its leader Sitaram Yechury took a swipe at the prime minister over the phrase “mother of democracy”, a term often used by Modi to highlight the country’s democratic ethos.
Yechury said, “First ban BBC documentaries. No JPC/enquiry into Adani exposures. Now IT raids on BBC offices! India: ‘Mother of democracy’?”
In her reaction, TMC MP Mahua Moitra asked if the “raids” on the BBC offices would be followed by one on “Mr A” in an apparent dig at Adani Group chief Gautam Adani.
“Since agencies doing these Valentine Day ‘Surveys’ how about @IncomeTaxIndia, @SEBI_India & @dir_ed conduct one on govt’s most valued sweetheart Mr. A?” she said in a tweet tagging SEBI and the Enforcement Directorate.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti alleged that it was “brazen hounding” of “those who speak the truth” by the BJP-led government.
Hitting back at critics, Bhatia said when India is marching ahead globally under Modi’s leadership, there are many powers that do not like it.
He claimed that the Congress, its leader Rahul Gandhi and other opposition parties also feel “pained” by the country’s rise under Modi.
Accusing the opposition Congress of supporting “anti-national” forces, he said, “Your hate for Modi is so much that you politicise even a probe agency’s work. You always question constitutional authorities such as the Supreme Court and the Election Commission.”
He said India gives opportunity to every organisation and individual as long as they are willing to abide by the Constitution and do not have hidden agendas and “spew venom” against the country
The BBC, however, does venomous and shallow reporting on India, he alleged. “The BBC wishes to operate in India yet refuses to respect the icons of the country. In a BBC programme, its presenter had the temerity to say that Mahatma Gandhi had failed in his attempt to liberate India in 1946,” Bhatia said.
The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday said it was “deeply concerned” about the Income Tax surveys at the offices of BBC India and termed it as a continuation of a “trend” of using government agencies to “intimidate and harass” media outlets critical of the ruling establishment.
In a statement, the Guild also demanded that great care and sensitivity be shown in all such investigations so as to not undermine the rights of journalists and media organisations.

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