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BBC Offices in Mumbai and New Delhi Enquired by I-T Department
The Income Tax Department on Tuesday carried out “survey” operations at the offices of Delhi and Mumbai. This “survey” operation came out just weeks after the controversial two-part documentary, “India: The Modi Question” was released by the BBC’s broadcast in Britain. The documentary which was released on Jan 17 and 24 2024, sparked controversies around the subject matter of the documentary which looked at “tensions between Indian PM Narendra Modi and India’s Muslim Minority”.
The film examines Modi’s rise to power, his ideology, and his policies, as well as his controversial past as the Chief Minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots that left over 1,000 people dead, mostly Muslims. Its portrayal of Modi as a PM with troubled relationships with the Muslim minority in India was highlighted by covering the cow lynchings, the nullification of Article 370, The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as well as the National Registry of Citizens (NRC).
“No One Is Above The Law”, Union Minister Anurag Thakur
Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur defended the move and said that no one was above the law and the Income tax department would share details about the survey carried out at the offices in New Delhi and Mumbai after its competition. He further added that the I-T department conducted surveys from time to time wherever there were some irregularities. “When the surveys are over, it issues a press note or holds a press briefing to share some information. I believe that when the I-T department will complete its survey, it will share details with you ”, Thakur said.Also Read ;- The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by the Hindu Sena president to ban the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in India.
“Cooperating With I-T Department Officials”, BBC Officials London
The move has drawn widespread criticism from media organisations and journalists, who have raised concerns about the implications of the act on press freedom and the independence of the media. Several commentators have called the operation an attack on the freedom of the press and an attempt to intimidate journalists and media organisations. They said it “was fully cooperating with the tax officials” and that it was “supporting” staff and “continue to hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible”
The Threat Of a Chilling Effect On Press Freedom
Several organisations, National and International, like the Editors Guild of India, Press Club Of India, The International Federation of Journalists, Brussels have issued statements condemning the act and the effect it will have on Independent journalism in the country. The Mumbai Press Club issued a statement saying; “Media houses have been continuously attacked by the Union and some State Governments at overawing or demoralising them or refusing to follow the government’s perspective” and that the “fourth estate is a pillar of democracy and such actions will only undermine it”.
The freedom of press guaranteed under article 19(1)(a) of the constitution not only elucidates the importance of a free press in a democratic society, but also its role in holding those in power accountable.
Article 19(1) in The Constitution Of India 1949
(1) All citizens shall have the right
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business