Wednesday was the second day of the Income Tax Department’s review of BBC offices. The tax department was looking into “deliberate non-compliance with the transfer pricing rules” and “vast diversion of profits.”
The I-T Department took this action a few weeks after the BBC released “India: The Modi Question,” a documentary about the 2002 Gujarat riots, on January 17. The tax department’s action caused a big political fight. Opposition parties called it “undemocratic,” while the BJP called the broadcaster the “most corrupt and rubbish corporation.”
Here are the most important changes:
1) BBC gets I-T knock again
On Wednesday, a group of people from the Income Tax Department went to the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai for the second day in a row to do surveys. Officials from the government said that the surveys on BBC are meant to look into “the manipulation of prices for illegal benefits, such as tax advantages.”
Officials from the government said that BBC had not followed the rules for transfer pricing and had done so repeatedly and on purpose. They said that it took a big part of the profits on purpose and did not follow the arm’s-length arrangement when dividing up the profits.
2) The opposition says the BBC is trying to scare them, and the BJP says the BBC is corrupt.
As soon as the polls started, the Opposition said that the Centre was trying to scare off the BBC. But the BJP defended what they did and said that the British broadcaster was spreading “venomous” news about India. The BJP also called the BBC a “Brasht (corrupt) Bakwaas (rubbish) Corporation” with a “tainted and black history of working with malice against India.”
A day after the event, Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, said that an attack on press freedom is the same as silencing people. “The media is the fourth pillar of democracy, and any attack on their freedom is the same as shutting down the voice of the people.” “These people put the CBI, ED, and I-T behind anyone who speaks out against the BJP,” Kejriwal wrote in a tweet in Hindi.
Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and veteran Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also spoke out against the I-T survey in a harsh way. “This kind of raid has probably never happened to BBC before in its 100-year history. “Their only mistake was making a film about the Gujarat riots that showed both sides,” he wrote on Twitter.
3) The US says it agrees with the importance of free press and freedom of speech around the world.
The US said on Tuesday that it agreed with the importance of a free press, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion as universal rights that are the “base of democracies” all over the world, including India.
Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said, “We know that Indian tax officials searched the BBC office in Delhi. The details of this search would have to come from the Indian government. Beyond this specific action, I’ll say more generally the same thing I’ve always said in this context, but also in all contexts.
4) “Soon, we’ll give you more information…” Union IT surveys at BBC offices, according to Min Anurag Thakur
Anurag Thakur, a Union Minister, said on Tuesday that the Income Tax department would soon give more information about the surveys being done at BBC offices.
“The Income Tax Department does surveys from time to time to look for mistakes. When the survey is done, they send out a press note or press briefing with the information they found. “I think they will give you all that information in detail when this IT survey is done,” he told reporters in Maharashtra.
5) The PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti wants the BBC to stop sending the wrong message around the world.
Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti, president of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), told the news agency PTI that the action against BBC India sent the wrong message to the rest of the world and hurt India’s reputation as a democracy. Mufti said that the I-T department’s survey was “nothing new” because the BJP-led government in Kashmir had already taken similar steps against journalists.
“Nothing has changed. We have seen how journalists are treated for the past three years, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. Fahad Shah and Sajad Gul have been jailed. “Unfortunately, the national and international community didn’t say anything when it was happening here, and now it’s happening there, too,” she said.
“One day there will be no media in India,” said Mamata Banerjee about the I-action T’s against the BBC.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday that the Income-Tax department’s surveys at BBC offices are “political vendetta” by the BJP government. She also said that the action against the British broadcaster has hurt the freedom of the press. “It’s a shame that I-T surveys are on BBC… PTI reported that CM Banerjee said, “One day, there won’t be any media in India.”
On Tuesday, the I.T. department went to the BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai to check for “non-compliance” with transfer pricing rules and “diversion of profits,” as they called it. The action was taken a few weeks after a BBC documentary about the 2002 riots in Gujarat caused a political stir. After the documentary caused trouble, the central government told YouTube and Twitter to remove links to it.