The raids on premises in Delhi and Mumbai come only weeks after a BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was released.
Raids on BBC offices in India have entered their second day as a tax inquiry continues, only weeks after a documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was released.
According to reports, raids of BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai continued overnight and into Wednesday morning as investigators combed through papers and seized phones and laptops belonging to journalists and employees at the broadcaster.
On Tuesday, officers from the income tax department detained dozens of employees in their offices for several hours.
“The Income Tax Authorities remain at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai. Many staff has now left the building, but some have been asked to remain and are continuing to cooperate with the ongoing enquiries,” BBC news said late Tuesday evening in a tweet.
Officials have stated that they are investigating the BBC for tax evasion, profit diversion, and noncompliance with Indian law. The BBC stated that they were completely cooperating with the searches.
The probe comes only weeks after a BBC documentary, India: The Modi Question, enraged the authorities. The documentary examined the escalating tensions between Modi and India’s Muslim minority population and charges that Modi was implicated in stoking religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 that killed 1,000 people, predominantly Muslims.
The government criticised the documentary as “a propaganda film aimed to sell a specific discredited narrative,” with “bias, a lack of objectivity, and a continued colonial attitude abundantly obvious.”
The BBC has declared the documentary was “rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards.” It includes interviews with members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but the Modi administration did not reply to calls for comment.
The documentary was not released in India, but emergency rules were invoked to prohibit any excerpts or links to the documentary from being disseminated on social media, with posts on Twitter and YouTube being removed at the request of the government. Students across the country protested the apparent restriction and held rebellious screenings of the documentary, resulting in several arrests.
Several news organizations and opposition lawmakers denounced the searches. The Editors’ Guild of India stated the raids were part of a wider “pattern of utilizing government authorities to intimidate or harass journalistic organisations that are critical of government policies.”