Editors Guild condemns IT searches at BBC offices, says 'Using govt agencies to harass media distressing'

Editors Guild condemns IT searches at BBC offices, says 'Using govt agencies to harass media distressing'

"The Income Tax Authorities are currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating," the British broadcaster said on Twitter. "We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible," BBC tweeted.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, February 14, 2023, 04:25 PM IST
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BBC Modi Documentary: Editor's guild says, 'Using govt agencies to intimidate & harass media distressing' |

The Editors Guild of India issued a statement on Tuesday after the Income Tax Department conducted searches at the BBC's offices in Mumbai and Delhi. In the statement, the guild said that it is deeply concerned about the IT “surveys” being carried out at the offices of BBC India and is distressed by the continuing trend of government agencies being used to intimidate and harass news organisations that are critical of the ruling establishment.

"This comes soon after the release of two documentaries by the BBC, on the 2002 violence in Gujarat and the current status of the minorities in India. The documentaries stirred political waters, with the government criticising the BBC for wrong and prejudiced reportage on the Gujarat violence, and attempting to ban online access and viewing of the films in India," the statement read.

The guild said that the surveys by the I-T department is in continuation of a trend of using government agencies to intimidate and harass press organisations that are critical of government policies or the ruling establishment.

"In September 2021, the offices of NewsClick and Newslaundry were similarly "surveyed" by the I-T department. In June 2021, there were surveys against Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar. In February 2021, the ED had conducted raids at the offices of NewsClick. In each case, the raids and surveys were conducted against the backdrop of critical coverage of the government establishment by the news organisations," it added.

It said that this is a trend that undermines constitutional democracy.

The Guild demanded that great care and sensitivity be shown in all such investigations so as to not undermine the rights of journalists and media organisations.

"Further, the Guild reiterates its earlier demand that governments ensure that such investigations are conducted within the prescribed rules and that they don't degenerate into instruments of harassment to intimidate independent media," the Editors Guild of India said in a statement.

BBC issued statement after IT searches

"The Income Tax Authorities are currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating," the British broadcaster said on Twitter. "We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible," BBC tweeted.

Earlier the Supreme Court of India dismissed the petition filed by the Hindu Sena to ban the film

While dismissing the Hindu Sena President's writ petition, Justice Khanna stated that it is entirely misconceived and without merit. The petitioner claimed in his petition that the BBC is biased against India and the Union government, and that the documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the result of a deep conspiracy against the country's and Modi's global rise.

(With agency inputs)

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