Amid allegations of “manipulating” stories and “making editorial decisions” during the Income Tax raids at Dainik Bhaskar on Thursday morning, the Income Tax Department has categorically stated that no such action was carried out by its officials during the raid.
In a press release on Thursday, the Income Tax Department rejected allegations that its officials had “suggested changes” in news stories when they conducted raids at multiple offices of the Dainik Bhaskar media group on charges of tax evasion.
In a series of tweets, the department said that its teams only looked into financial documents during the searches.
“Certain allegations have appeared in some sections of media that IT Dept officials were suggesting changes in stories & taking editorial decisions during their search on offices of a certain publication”. The IT department said that these allegations are absolutely false.
Certain allegations have appeared in some sections of media that ITDept officials were suggesting changes in stories &taking editorial decisions during their search on offices of a certain publication.These allegations are absolutely false &are categorically denied by ITDept(1/3)— Income Tax India (@IncomeTaxIndia) July 22, 2021
The Income Tax department also said that they followed the protocol and the investigation team “only looked into the group’s financial transactions related to tax evasion”.
In keeping with the Department’s protocol, the Investigation team only looked into the financial transactions of the group related to tax evasion.(2/3)— Income Tax India (@IncomeTaxIndia) July 22, 2021
Further, the department said that Om Gaur, the national editor of Dainik Bhaskar, is based in Lucknow, and their office in the city was not at all searched by the Income Tax team.
“Sh Om Gaur was not even questioned. The allegations being made have no basis and, in fact, seem to be highly motivated,” the Income Tax Department said.
Shri Om Gaur is based in Lucknow as per his interview to media. It is emphasised that Lucknow office of the publication was not searched by the Income Tax team. Sh Om Gaur was not even questioned. The allegations being made have no basis & in fact seem to be highly motivated(3/3)— Income Tax India (@IncomeTaxIndia) July 22, 2021
The clarification comes amidst the multiple raids carried out by the Income Tax Department on the offices of media group Dainik Bhaskar in several locations across the country over alleged tax evasion.
What ‘Om Gaur’ had claimed to NDTV
Following the raids, Dainik Bhaskar Group Editor Om Gaur, speaking to the NDTV’s news anchor Saket Upadhyay, had claimed that the Income Tax officials went to the Group’s digital department and informed the employees that whatever stories they will publish on their digital platform shall go only after their approval.
What exactly was the Income Tax team doing when they raided the Dainik Bhaskar office? They were suggesting changes in their web stories and taking editorial calls. Stunning revelation by the natl editor of the newspaper Mr Om Gaur. 😀 pic.twitter.com/8hoVRDjLLl— Sanket Upadhyay (@sanket) July 22, 2021
Meanwhile, the IT Department has denied the allegations of questioning Gaur. The department also said the claims have no basis, and they seem to be “highly motivated”.
IT Raids against Dainik Bhaskar Group
On Thursday, Income Tax Department carried out raids at media house Dainik Bhaskar’s offices across multiple locations.
The Income Tax Department conducted raids in as many as 40 locations, including Bhopal, Jaipur, Ahmedabad. As per sources, the raids started at around 4:30 AM on Thursday after it received a tip-off of alleged tax evasion by the group.
The IT department said that the group has more than 100 companies, including holding and subsidiary companies. The flagship company is DB Corp Ltd, which publishes the news daily Dainik Bhaskar. Besides media, the group is involved in various sectors such as power, textiles and real estate, with a group turnover of more than Rs 6,000 crore per annum.
Headquartered in Madhya Pradesh, Dainik Bhaskar is one of the leading dailies with over 60 editions in multiple languages.