US-based media body condemns tax raids on Dainik Bhaskar, Bharat Samachar

Security personnel stand guard at the residence of the owner of Dainik Bhaskar Group Sudhir Agarwal after Income Tax department raided his premises, in Bhopal on Thursday | Photo: PTI

A US-based media body has condemned the raids on India's prominent media group Dainik Bhaskar and TV channel Bharat Samachar by the Income Tax Department and said New Delhi should drop these investigations aimed at "intimidating" news outlets critical of its government.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said India must revive its long tradition of press freedom and "allow journalists to report freely on matters of public interest".

The Income Tax Department conducted raids across several states against Dainik Bhaskar as well as Bharat Samachar for alleged tax evasion.

The raids against Dainik Bhaskar, which has presence in 12 states and runs newspapers as well as operates radio stations, web portals and mobile phone apps, started around 5:30 am on Thursday and were going on till late in the evening. They were taking place in 30 locations in different states.

The premises of Bharat Samachar and its promoters and staffers were raided in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

"The use of tax raids against media properties like Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar is a vile tactic transparently aimed at intimidating news outlets that report critically on India's government, and it needs to stop, now," Steven Butler, Asia program coordinator for CPJ, said on Thursday.

"India must revive its long tradition of press freedom, drop these investigations, and allow journalists to report freely on matters of public interest," he said.

"Indian authorities should immediately stop occupying the offices of the media group Dainik Bhaskar and the home of its managing director, and cease harassing Dainik Bhaskar, the news channel Bharat Samachar, and the outlets' staff," he added.

Both Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar have been critical of the COVID-19 management in the country and have done numerous stories highlighting the failings of authorities and the distress of people during the second wave of the pandemic.

The raids drew sharp reactions from several quarters in the country, including opposition parties, whose leaders raised the issue in Parliament.

Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur denied any government interference in the action by the Income Tax Department.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel