IT survey at BBC offices continues for second consecutive day

BBC asks staff to cooperate with the IT department, but asks all personnel except those with the broadcast wing to work from home

Updated - February 15, 2023 08:44 pm IST

Published - February 15, 2023 10:07 am IST - New Delhi

Private security outside the BBC office amid a survey operation conducted by Income Tax Department officials, at Kasturba Gandhi Marg in Delhi.

Private security outside the BBC office amid a survey operation conducted by Income Tax Department officials, at Kasturba Gandhi Marg in Delhi. | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The Income Tax Department continued its survey at the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Delhi and Mumbai on Wednesday, on the allegation of “deliberate non-compliance with Indian laws, including transfer pricing rules and diversion of profits illegally”.

During the survey, initiated weeks after the BBC released a two-part documentary India: the Modi Question related to the 2002 riots and the situation of minorities in India, the agency checked the broadcaster’s financial transactions and computer records.

It is learnt that the BBC has asked its staff in India to cooperate with the Income Tax Department. Only those with its broadcast wing have been told to come to office, while the others have been allowed to work from home. “We are supporting our staff during this time and continue to hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible. Our output and journalism continues as normal and we are committed to serving our audiences in India,” a BBC spokesperson said on Tuesday.

‘Political vendetta’

The move has triggered a sharp response from the Opposition and from media organisations.

“It is very unfortunate; it is a political vendetta of the BJP government,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told journalists at the State Assembly on Wednesday. She said that although there were constitutional limitations for those in power, the BJP was not concerned about the people’s mandate. “They [BJP leaders] don’t care about people’s mandate, their only mandate is dictatorship. [They are] more than Hitler. My sympathy and full support with the media and the BBC,” she said.

The Chief Minister cautioned that if the situation continued, it would drive out the media. “It is affecting freedom of press; there will be no media left in this country. Media is already controlled by them,” she added.

Ms. Banerjee noted that the BJP government has not spared the judiciary. “Sometimes they have said against the judiciary and they want to capture the judiciary also. Only the judiciary can save the country right now,” she added.

Also read: Aware of BBC raid, cannot offer any judgement: U.S


Stating that “any media organisation functioning in India will have to follow the rules and regulations of the country,” BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia had on Tuesday accused the BBC of spreading propaganda. “Unfortunately, BBC’s propaganda and Congress’ agenda are on the same lines. Today, India is attaining great heights under PM Modi’s leadership and some sections do not like this. The BBC has all rights to do journalism in India, but they will have to abide by the law of the land,” he said.

On Tuesday, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge had called the IT survey “an assault on freedom of press”. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury asked on Twitter: “First ban BBC documentaries. No JPC/enquiry into Adani exposures. Now IT raids on BBC offices! India: ‘Mother of democracy’?

The Peoples Democratic Party, Shiv Sena (UBT) and the Aam Aadmi Party also criticised the IT Department’s action against the BBC.

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