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Opposition, ‘liberals’ attack Centre after IT surveys BBC office in Delhi over suspected taxation irregularities

The BBC survey was carried out in view of its deliberate non-compliance with the Transfer Pricing Rules and its vast diversion of profits. Transfer Pricing essentially ensures that the transaction between ‘related’ parties is at a price that would be comparable if the transaction was occurring between unrelated parties.

Hours after the Income Tax officials reached BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices to conduct a survey on Thursday, several opposition parties and ‘liberals’ extended their support to the media organisation criticizing the BJP-led government for allegedly ‘targeting’ the media firm. Several ‘liberals’ and opposition party leaders took to Twitter and insinuated that the BJP government had directed the Income Tax officials to conduct a survey at the BBC office as a result of its recent documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The BBC survey was carried out in view of its deliberate non-compliance with the Transfer Pricing Rules and its vast diversion of profits. Transfer Pricing essentially ensures that the transaction between ‘related’ parties is at a price that would be comparable if the transaction was occurring between unrelated parties.

However, the opposition parties and ‘liberals’ co-opted the Income Tax department’s action to attack the government and paint the move as politically motivated.

Opposition and ‘liberals’ rally behind BBC, which is accused of taxation irregularities

“First came the BBC documentary, it was banned. Now Income Tax has raided BBC. Undeclared Emergency,” tweeted Congress as it alleged that the centre had deliberately directed the survey against the BBC. Also, Rajya Sabha member and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh attacked the BJP-led government and said that the government was ignoring the Adani crisis and was running behind the BBC.

Further, senior Congress leader KC Venugopal condemned the survey and said, “The IT raid at BBC’s office reeks of desperation and shows that the Modi government is scared of criticism. We condemn these intimidation tactics in the harshest terms. This undemocratic and dictatorial attitude cannot go on any longer”.

Apart from Congress, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray), and Aam Aadmi Party also targeted the centre over the BBC raids. Commenting on the matter, SP leader Akhilesh Yadav said the Centre was conducting an ideological emergency by conducting a survey at the BBC office.

Meanwhile, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj tweeted, “Central Govt has embarrassed itself and the country by raiding offices of BBC. Modi govt is attempting to silence the BBC voice through it’s well-known and so predictable move of harassing anyone who refuses to fall in line. Modi ji your Adani scam will not get diverted through such condemnable actions.”

Bharadwaj also termed BBC as one of the most credible news agencies in the world and said that the Centre was making itself a laughing stock by ‘directing’ raids at the BBC office.

Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut stated that India was losing its democratic status. “Timing of the Raids on BBC no more suggests, but establishes, that India is fast losing its Democratic Image. India’s Democracy is under siege. Judiciary and Journalism are the last surviving bastions. We will fight to the last drop of our blood for Indian Democracy! Jay Hind!” he wrote on Twitter.

‘Journalist’ Rana Ayyub, who is accused in a donation fraud case, claimed that anyone who comments against the Gujarat riots 2002 is bound to face problems. “Anybody who speaks of the Gujarat 2002 carnage, writes, investigates it, is bound to face the vindictiveness and the wrath of the regime. It is a pattern in case you missed it BBC,” she tweeted.

Founding member of Aam Aadmi Party and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, however, called the Modi government the most vindictive and fascist government ever and alleged it of deliberately harassing the BBC. “The bloodhounds of the govt are at it again to harass and intimidate anyone who says or shows anything that Modi doesn’t like. Now raiding BBC for daring to show a film ‘The Modi question’. This is the most vindictive and fascist govt ever. Much worse than the emergency. On its last legs,” he tweeted.

Also, journalist Nidhi Razdan who recently quit NDTV, claimed that the Income Tax searches were the hallmarks of a ‘thin-skinned state’. “You may agree or disagree about the contents of the BBC documentary, but these Income Tax searches are the hallmarks of a thin-skinned state. Ahead of the G 20, it’s a poor look for India as we call ourselves the mother of democracy,” she tweeted.

‘Opposition’s conduct a serious cause of concern for the country’: BJP

After the opposition criticised the government and accused it of directing raids at BBC, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia addressed a press conference and stated that the reactions of the opposition were a matter of concern for all Indians. “The political reactions are coming on the ongoing survey of the I-T department at BBC offices, be it’s Congress, TMC or SP, it’s a matter of concern for all the Indians. First, Congress needs to understand that the country runs according to the constitution. This is the Modi government. Investigating agencies are no longer caged parrots. They are doing their work. Any agency whether a media firm or a company, working in India has to obey Indian laws. If nothing wrong has been done, then there should be no fear,” Bhatia said on Tuesday.

“If we look at the works of the BBC, it has become the world’s ‘Bhrashta Bakwas Corporation’. It is said that BBC’s propaganda and Congress’ agenda are similar. We know that India is leading the world under the leadership of PM Modi. But there are forces who do not like this. And whenever the country performs well, then these agencies or Rahul Gandhi’s Congress and some leaders of the Opposition feel pain. The Congress party must remember how Indira Gandhi had put a ban on the BBC,” he added.

The Income Tax officials on Tuesday conducted surveys at the BBC Delhi and Mumbai office in connection with alleged tax evasion and irregularities. The officials as a part of the survey seized the mobile phones and computers of the employees and asked them to leave the office premises. The BBC, meanwhile, revealed that it was following the tax rules and hoped to get out of the situation soon.

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