Taxmen visit BBC office’s in Delhi and Mumbai. Laptops and Phones Reportedly Taken
According to insiders, the tax authorities were conducting an investigation into claims that the BBC had engaged in improper transfer pricing and foreign taxation.
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.
“The BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai are currently visited by the Income Tax Authorities, and we are completely cooperating. This matter should be rectified as quickly as possible, “tweeted the BBC.
Journalists’ phones and laptops were taken away, and documents were seized. No calls were to be made by employees.
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.
“We required some clarifications, therefore our team is visiting the BBC office and conducting a survey in order to get them. These are not searches; rather, our officers have gone to inspect the account books “According to sources with the Income Tax Department, the taxmen requested balance sheet and account information from the BBC’s finance department.
The BBC aired a documentary that was critical of Prime Minister Modi on the riots that engulfed Gujarat in 2002, when he was Chief Minister, and the opposition claimed that the government was targeting the BBC for that reason.
Last month, public platforms removed the two-part series “India: The Modi Question.” To stop Twitter tweets and YouTube videos from disseminating links to the documentary, the Center deployed its emergency IT rules powers. The documentary received harsh criticism from the government for being “hostile propaganda and anti-India rubbish.”
Public screenings of the documentary were organised by opposition leaders and students in protest against what they considered obvious censorship, which resulted in fights on campus involving students, college officials, and the police.
“Here, we are requesting an investigation by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the Adani-Hindenburg dispute, while the government is harassing BBC. Vinash Kaale Viprit Buddhi, who said that when one is doomed, one makes the incorrect decisions, “Jairam Ramesh, a leader in the Congress, said.
Mahua Moitra, a member of the Trinamool Congress, mocked in a tweet: “reports of a tax audit at the BBC office in Delhi. Wow—all? that’s What a surprise.”
Leader of the Samajwadi Party Akhilesh Yadav declared in Hindi that “one should realise the end is near” when a government stands for oppression and fear rather than fearlessness.
The governing BJP attacked the BBC for its “venomous, superficial, and agenda-driven reporting,” saying the Income Tax Bureau should be allowed to carry out its duties. “No person or organisation can be exempt from the law. They must abide by Indian law if they are doing business there. What’s the concern if they haven’t engaged in any wrongdoing? Why are the opposition parties supporting the agency because of its shoddy and meagre politics? “Asked Gaurav Bhatia, a BJP spokeswoman. Additionally, he called the BBC a “Bhrasht, Bakwas Corporation” (corrupt, senseless corporation).
The Supreme Court dismissed a request last week for a total ban on BBC in India due to the programme, labelling the petition as “completely misconceived.”