After critical documentary, Indian tax officers search BBC offices

Indian tax officials search BBC bureaus after critical documentary on Modi

Indian tax officers have conducted searches on the BBC’s bureaus in Mumbai and New Delhi. The searches took place after the BBC released a documentary that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The documentary focused on Modi’s leadership during the deadly communal riots that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims.

The BBC stated that it was fully cooperating with the authorities and hoped for a quick resolution to the situation. However, the Editors Guild of India expressed concern and called the search an attempt to intimidate and harass news organizations that are critical of the government. The tax department had previously conducted similar searches on media outlets critical of the government in 2021.

The BJP defended the tax department’s actions, stating that Indian institutions work independently, and the department was acting within the law. The Congress party condemned the searches, with one lawmaker stating that it showed the Modi government’s fear of criticism and was undemocratic.

The Indian government has dismissed the documentary as propaganda, claiming that it is biased and lacks objectivity. The BBC has stood by its reporting, which led to police detaining students who gathered to watch the documentary in January.

Modi, who ruled Gujarat for over a decade before becoming prime minister in 2014, has faced accusations of not doing enough to stop the rioting during his leadership. However, a panel appointed by the Supreme Court in 2013 stated that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

The communal violence in Gujarat began in 2002 after a suspected Muslim mob set fire to a train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

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