Media group Dainik Bhaskar has condemned the income-tax raids on their offices early Thursday and said that the government is “scared of true journalism”.
Tax raids were conducted at the premises of the media group and an Uttar Pradesh-based news channel Bharat Samachar. Some 100 officials searched around 30 locations in multiple cities across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan, and Gujarat over alleged tax evasion.
The Income-Tax Department conducted searches at the promoters' residences and offices as well.
Bharat Samachar’s premises were also raided in Lucknow. It is said that the channel’s has been recently critical of the UP government.
Citing some examples of “why the government is scared of their journalism”, Dainik Bhaskar said in a statement on their website, “During the second wave, for six months, Bhaskar presented to the country the true picture of the government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation. Be it the matter of floating dead bodies in the Ganges or the underrepresented death count due to the pandemic, Bhaskar showed fearless journalism and brought the truth in front of the public.”
मैं स्वतंत्र हूं, क्योंकि मैं भास्कर हूं— Dainik Bhaskar (@DainikBhaskar) July 22, 2021
भास्कर में चलेगी सिर्फ पाठकों की मर्जी।#स्वतंत्र_भास्कर @pantlp @Navneet88727599 @OmGaur1 @helloavnish @DevendraBhatn10 @prasoonmishra @upmita @RaviDubey1 pic.twitter.com/WvLoMFc127
Bhaskar said that employees present in the offices, including those from the night shift, were not allowed to leave and their mobile phones were confiscated. They said the I-T team was not accompanied by any women officers even though women employees were present in the offices.
Meanwhile, responding to the Congress' charge that the raids were intended to throttle the voice of democracy, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur defended the I-T action.
"Agencies are doing their own work and there is no interference...One should take complete information and in its absence sometimes many issues come up that are far from the truth..," he told reporters at a Cabinet briefing.
The Income Tax Department conducted multi-city raids against two prominent media groups—Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar— on charges of tax evasion, official sources said.
Opposition leaders were quick to condemn the raids and said this was the government’s attack on journalism and that the news publication was paying the price for exposing the government’s mismanagement of Covid-19’s second wave.
Congress’ General Secretary Randeep Surjewala asked “How much more will you strangle the media?”
कितना और गला घोटेंगे मीडिया का ?— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 22, 2021
कितनी और दबिश मानेगा मीडिया ?
कब तक सच पर सत्ता की बेड़ियाँ रहेंगी ?
आज यह देख अथाह दुःख हुआ कि TV के साथी आज भी दैनिक भास्कर-भारत समाचार पर “रेड राज” के ख़िलाफ़ डिबेट नही करवा रहे ?
अब भी नही तो कब ?#Raid #RaidOnFreePress
Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh tweeted that it was an “undeclared emergency”.
Through its reporting Dainik Bhaskar has exposed the Modi regime’s monumental mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now paying the price.— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 22, 2021
An Undeclared Emergency as Arun Shourie has said — this is a Modified Emergency. https://t.co/EVLHGisGTq
West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee condemned the “brutal attempt to stifle democracy”.
The attack on journalists & media houses is yet another BRUTAL attempt to stifle democracy.#DainikBhaskar bravely reported the way @narendramodi ji mishandled the entire #COVID crisis and led the country to its most horrifying days amid a raging pandemic. (1/2)— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 22, 2021
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also expressed his protest.
Income Tax raid on Dainik Bhaskar newspaper & Bharat Samachar news channel is a brazen attempt to suppress the voice of media. Modi government cannot tolerate even an iota of its criticism. Due to its fascist mentality, the BJP doesn't want to see the truth in a democratic setup.— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 22, 2021
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal said that the raids should be stopped immediately.
दैनिक भास्कर और भारत समाचार पर आयकर छापे मीडिया को डराने का प्रयास है। उनका संदेश साफ़ है- जो भाजपा सरकार के ख़िलाफ़ बोलेगा, उसे बख्शेंगे नहीं।ऐसी सोच बेहद ख़तरनाक है।सभी को इसके ख़िलाफ़ आवाज़ उठानी चाहिए— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) July 22, 2021
ये छापे तुरंत बंद किए जायें और मीडिया को स्वतंत्र रूप से काम करने दिया जाए
Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh also tweeted about the raids and said that this was Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah’s attack on journalism.
पत्रकारिता पर मोदीशाह का प्रहार!! मोदीशाह का एक मात्र हथियार IT ED CBI!— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) July 22, 2021
मुझे विश्वास है अग्रवाल बंधु डरेंगे नहीं।
दैनिक भास्कर के विभिन्न ठिकानों पर इनकम टैक्स इन्वेस्टिगेशन विंग की छापामार कार्रवाई शुरू...
प्रेस कॉन्प्लेक्स सहित आधा दर्जन स्थानों पर मौजूद है इनकम टैक्स की टीम
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal linked the raids to Dainik Bhaskar’s coverage of the Pegasus report.
Bhaskar Group— Kapil Sibal (@KapilSibal) July 22, 2021
Published two days ago scathing piece on phone tapping and snooping and also referred to a past incident in Gujarat
IT raids in Ahmadabad , Bhopal etc
Aap chronology samajhiye !
The Press Club of India also condemned “such acts of intimidation by the government through enforcement agencies”.
The Press Club of India deplores such acts of intimidation by the government through inforcement agencies to deter the independent media from discharging their duty to serve the society pic.twitter.com/IMZgj3rT1e— Press Club of India (@PCITweets) July 22, 2021
During the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dainik Bhaskar group had severely criticised the government over their handling of the pandemic.
Through a series of stories on the rising deaths, they had reported how bodies were being dumped along the river Ganga. Their Covid-related coverage was noticed globally and was carried by publications such as NY Times, The Guardian, BBC, CNN and Singapore Times.