Tax Survey At BBC’s Delhi, Mumbai Offices, Phones, Laptops Seized: Sources
Following weeks of intense controversy over the UK broadcaster’s documentary series on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the deadly sectarian riots in Gujarat in 2002, income tax officers today searched the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai and seized phones and laptops.
According to sources, the tax authorities shut down the offices as part of a “survey” of alleged BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) transfer pricing and international taxation issues.
According to the sources, journalists’ phones and laptops were confiscated, along with documents. Employees were ordered not to make any phone calls during the “survey” since the offices were shut off.
In a memo to colleagues, BBC reportedly stated, “We are addressing the situation,” asking those not in the office to stay away and those in the office to not become alarmed. Tax officials assured that the phones would be returned and that this was a survey, not a search.
The BBC aired a documentary critical of Prime Minister Modi over the riots that ravaged Gujarat in 2002, when he was Chief Minister, and the opposition claimed that the government was targeting the BBC because of this.
India: The Modi Question, a two-part series, was removed from public platforms last month. YouTube videos and Twitter tweets containing links to the documentary were blocked by the Center using emergency powers granted by IT Rules. The documentary was denounced by the administration as “hostile propaganda and anti-India rubbish.”
Public screenings of the documentary were organised by opposition leaders and students as a form of protest against what they perceived as obvious censorship. This caused riots on campus between students, college officials, and the police.
The BBC was asked to be completely banned in India over the programme, but the Supreme Court rejected the motion last week, describing it as “totally misconceived.”
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