New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India on Tuesday expressed concern over the Income Tax (I-T) surveys at BBC India offices.
“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 attempted to ban online access and viewing of the films in India,” it said.
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, 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 office of NewsClick. In each case, the raids and surveys were 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.
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