Income tax authorities raided and searched BBC offices in India as part of an inquiry.
Weeks after the broadcaster aired a programme in the UK that was critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, searches have been conducted in New Delhi and Mumbai.
In-depth details about BBC India offices was searched and raid by income tax officials
The BBC claimed to be “completely cooperating” with law enforcement.
A brief statement followed that said, “We want to have this matter rectified as quickly as possible.”
India’s government has made an effort to prevent people from sharing India: The Modi Question online, labelling it “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage” with a “colonial mindset,” despite the fact that the documentary was only broadcast on television in the UK.
When students gathered to watch the movie last month in Delhi, authorities detained some of them.
The prime minister’s involvement in anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, while he was the state’s chief minister, was the subject of the documentary.
The search on Tuesday, according to KC Venugopal, general secretary of the opposition Congress party, “reeks of desperation and demonstrates that the Modi government is afraid of criticism.”
“We vehemently reject these intimidation techniques. This tyrannical and anti-democratic behaviour must stop, “Tweeted he.
However, a spokeswoman for Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power, referred to the BBC as the “most corrupt organisation in the world.”
As long as you don’t spew hate, India is a country that offers opportunities to any organisation, he claimed.
He noted that the timing of the searches had nothing to do with the government and that they were legal.
A non-profit organisation that supports press freedom, the Editors Guild of India, expressed its “grave concern” over the searches.
According to the report, they represent “a continuation of a trend of employing government institutions to intimidate and harass journalistic organisations that are critical of government policies or the governing establishment.”
Authorities have been accused of “seeking to harass and intimidate the BBC over its critical coverage of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party,” according to the board of Amnesty International India.
It claimed that “the Income Tax Department’s expansive capabilities are routinely weaponized to silencing dissent.”
The video draws attention to an unpublished dossier that the BBC got from the UK Foreign Office and which casts doubt on Mr. Modi’s behaviour during the 2002 riots.
The unrest started the day after a Hindu pilgrim train was set on fire, leaving hundreds of people dead. In the ensuing bloodshed, almost 1,000 individuals, predominantly Muslims, died.
According to the Foreign Office study, Mr. Modi “directly” contributed to the “environment of impunity” that encouraged the violence.
According to a statute that prevents entry of foreign officials suspected of “serious abuses of religious freedom,” the US denied Mr. Modi a visa in 2005.
Mr. Modi has consistently denied the allegations made against him and has not expressed regret for the riots. A Supreme Court panel also stated in 2013 that there was not enough evidence to bring charges against him.
The Indian government was given the opportunity to respond to the documentary, but it declined, the BBC reported last month.
The broadcaster said that the movie was “thoroughly researched” and that “a wide spectrum of voices, witnesses, and specialists were approached.” It also claimed that “a diversity of viewpoints, including comments from persons in the BJP,” were featured in the movie.