The raid at BBC offices in India by tax officials has sparked mass condemnations from social media for what is being considered another government retaliation for the critical documentary on Indian Prime Minister Modi.
According to the details in Indian media outlets, more than 50 Indian officials raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai around noon. Police sealed off the New Delhi office, which occupies two floors, and half a dozen officers were stationed outside to prevent people from entering or leaving. There are also reports that the phones of the journalists were confiscated in the raid.
The surprise raid at BBC offices has raised alarm in India as it comes weeks after the British publisher aired a polarizing documentary examining Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise and his role in the Gujarat Riots of 2002.
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Gaurav Bhatia, a spokesman for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, told reporters in a conference that the BBC “must work within India laws” and called the organization “corrupt” without offering specifics. Meanwhile, BBC released a statement saying that they were “fully cooperating” with the tax authorities now in their New Delhi and Mumbai offices.
Nevertheless, the raid by the Indian tax authorities has resulted in intense public backlash on social media as it is being considered another hit to BBC’s press freedom for airing the controversial documentary.
“This raid/survey is so imbecile, childish, and beyond even silly. As hosts of G-20 what are we telling the world that rather than an emerging great power we are an insecure power? Whichever bright spark though this one up is Prime Minister Modi’s worst enemy,” Manish Tewari from the opposition Congress Party said.
This raid/survey is so imbecile , childish & beyond even silly.
As hosts of G-20 what are we telling the world that rather than an emerging great power we are an insecure power.
Whichever bright spark thought this one up is @PMOIndia ‘s worst enemy. https://t.co/sW6mjcl6P1
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) February 14, 2023
Can anyone explain why tax department is seizing mobile devices of journos at @BBCWorld offices in India when the charge is of alleged tax evasion by BBC? And are mobiles of journos being seized after following due procedure? SC is already seized of this matter in another case.
— M K Venu (@mkvenu1) February 14, 2023
You may agree or disagree about the contents of the BBC documentary, but these Income Tax searches are the hallmarks of a thin skinned state. Ahead of the G 20, it’s a poor look for India as we call ourselves the mother of democracy
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) February 14, 2023
#India: @CPJAsia is monitoring developments as tax officials search the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai, weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Authorities must not harass journalists doing their jobshttps://t.co/247B4rUOMd
— CPJ Asia (@CPJAsia) February 14, 2023
At the time India holds the Presidency of the G-20 nations, PM Modi continues to brazenly show India’s slide into authoritarianism and dictatorship. Raids on BBC, clean chit to Adani, tax cuts for rich, people’s homes being bull dozed, inequality and unemployment on the rise.
— Gaurav Gogoi (@GauravGogoiAsm) February 14, 2023
One must condemn the #tax raid on the @BBCHindi @BBC #India offices. @narendramodi govt shouldn't be afraid of the free press. A #bbcdocumentry has shaken the confidence of the @BJP4India.#Freedom of #press is the mortar that binds together the bricks of #democracy.#bbcindia pic.twitter.com/GAesJu93Cz
— Frank Huzur (@frankhuzur) February 14, 2023
The #BJP regime in #India should be commended for treating all critics even-handedly! Criticise the regime and you will be raided. #BBC https://t.co/CFHE3Vu5x7
— Salil Shetty (@SalilShetty) February 14, 2023
The BBC documentary had caused quite a stir in India, however, the Modi government is adamant that the documentary is not shown anywhere. It has dismissed the documentary as propaganda and has since then launched what is being termed as media censorship by ordering YouTube and Twitter to remove the video links of the documentary.
Read more: Indian police detain students at screening of BBC documentary on Modi