BBC Offices in India Searched Following Modi Documentary

    BBC Offices in India Searched Following Modi Documentary
    Last updated Feb 14, 2023
    Image credit: AP [via Financial Times]


    • Income tax authorities have searched BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, just weeks after the broadcaster released a controversial documentary criticizing Indian Prime Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi.[1]
    • According to BBC sources, officials questioned the BBC accounts officer working in the New Delhi office and didn't allow others to leave. Tax officials have described the operation as a "credible survey operation."[2]
    • January saw the BBC air a two-part documentary, which claimed during the religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 that Modi was "directly responsible" for a "climate of impunity" that facilitated the violence of the protests. The current Prime Minister served as Gujarat's chief minister at the time of the events which resulted in the deaths of over 1K people, mostly from the minority Muslim population.[3]
    • The broadcast — entitled "India: The Modi Question" — has been blocked on social media in the country. Despite being dismissed by the government as propaganda and described by the foreign ministry as a biased piece that revealed a "continuing colonial mindset," the BBC has affirmed its reporting and stated Tuesday that it was cooperating with Indian tax officials.[2]
    • Clashes over the documentary have escalated since its release. The Supreme Court received a petition last week from Hindu nationalists, who called for a complete ban on the BBC in response to the broadcast — it was quickly thrown out by judges as "absolutely meritless."[4]
    • Rights officials as well as opposition officials have objected to Tuesday's search as a violation of press freedom.[2]


    Narrative A

    This is a blatant attack on journalists who have, through rigorous investigation, exposed Modi's record of oppressive and intolerant leadership. New Delhi is sliding into authoritarianism, a regression that has been accelerated by Modi's style of governance. Tax raids are a thin cover for what government officials are truly up to — concealing the erosion of human rights and persecution of minorities in India.

    Narrative B

    The surveys on the BBC premises are entirely warranted. Distinct from the broadcaster's recent controversial documentary — which has done irreparable damage to the sovereignty and integrity of India, as well as relations abroad and public order domestically — the offices are facing allegations of tax evasion and irregularities of international tax and financial transactions. Tax officials must be allowed to do their jobs unhindered by interference from the meddling of the international community.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 53% chance that there will be a non-BJP PM of India before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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