BBC India offices investigated by Indian tax officials

Indian income tax officials investigated the BBC India office on Tuesday morning for possible tax fraud. BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai were raided, which the network believes happened due to BBC’s documentary on Prime Minister Modi that aired on UK television. Although BBC said that it is cooperating with the authorities, the network seems to update regarding the treatment of the media network in India. Addressing the raid by the Income Tax Department, BBC said that it hopes that the situation will get resolved soon. BBC Network managed to garner a significantly negative response in the country for its documentary on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is because the documentary talked about PM Modi’s actions during the 2002 Gujarat riots, when he was serving as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, one of the Indian states. The BBC documentary named, “India: The Modi Question”, was referred to as anti-India garbage. 

The documentary depicted that Modi had direct involvement with the targeted violence against the Muslim community in the state during these riots. Although the documentary aired only on UK television, it was heavily shared over the internet in the country. Seeing the seriousness of the situation, the Indian government restricted sharing the documentary over the internet. In previous months, some students who attempted a gathering to watch the documentary were detained by the Delhi police. The government has tried its best to keep the documentary as far as possible for the Indian audience, as it believes that the documentary follows hostile propaganda. 

However, amid hate from the Indian government, the opposition parties have addressed the legitimacy of matters while putting out some crucial points to back things up. KC Venugopal, the general secretary of the Indian National Congress party, said that Tuesday's income tax raid just highlights the desperation of the Modi government and points towards the fact that the Modi government is scared of criticism. This exact point has been made by many western media houses such as Times, New York Times, CNN, etc. Time Magazine is one of the most active global media houses which has been criticizing the practices of the Modi government. PM Modi was even displayed as the Divider-in-Chief on Time Magazine’s cover. Back then, similar comments were made against Time Magazine that it is following a western agenda against India. Time also covered Tuesday’s income tax raid, highlighting India’s reliance on authorities such as the Income Tax department to silence any criticism against the Modi government. 

Gaurav Bhatia, the spokesperson of Bhartiya Janta Party, the ruling party in India, called BBC the most corrupt organization in the world. He highlighted the fact that India welcomes everyone with many opportunities as long as you are not acting against the country. He particularly made sure that the timing of this income tax raid has nothing to do with the Indian government. However, The Editors Guild of India called these actions concerning press freedom in the country. Since PM Modi came into power back in 2014, India has lost its ranking in Press Freedom Index, falling by 10 places to push it to 150th place out of 180 countries. This is indeed concerning and challenges the credibility of the Indian press.