IT Raids on Dainik Bhaskar’s Offices in 35 Locations, Opposition Alleges ‘Link’ With Critical Reportage
New Delhi: The Income Tax Department on Thursday conducted raids against Hindi language media group Dainik Bhaskar in multiple cities over alleged tax evasion, official sources said. The searches are being conducted in Delhi, Bhopal, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and some other locations in the country.
According to news agency ANI quoting sources, 35 locations of Dainik Bhaskar were searched in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The homes and offices of the group's promoters were also raided.
The media group, which has a large readership in North and Central India, has extensively covered the farmers’ protests, the COVID-19 ‘mismanagement’ by the government, especially the floating corpses in Ganga river, and more recently the Pegasus spyware expose across 50 countries in the world, including India.
A PTI report said while there was no official word from the department or its policy-making body, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), official sources said the action also involves the promoters of the major Hindi media group with operations across multiple states.
Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh said on Twitter that tax officials "are present" at half-a-dozen premises of the group, including at its office at Press Complex in state capital Bhopal.
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
Several Opposition leaders wondered if there was a ‘link’ of the raids with the kind of reportage that the media group had been doing.
"Through its reporting Dainik Bhaskar has exposed the Modi regime's monumental mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now paying the price. An Undeclared Emergency as Arun Shourie has said - this is a Modified Emergency," tweeted Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted with #RaidOnFreePress, saying that this was a “cowardly attack” on the freedom of press.
रेड जीवी जी,— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) July 22, 2021
प्रेस की आज़ादी पर कायरतापूर्ण हमला !
दैनिक भास्कर के भोपाल, जयपुर और अहमदाबाद कार्यालय पर अब इनकम टैक्स के छापे ।
लोकतंत्र की आवाज़ को “रेडराज” से नही दबा पाएँगे।#RaidOnFreePress
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) also questioned the IT raids on a media group seen as critical to the ruling dispensation.
“Dainik Bhaskar raids: punishment for daring to expose Modi Govt's COVID lies? Stop Hounding Those who criticise you!” the Left party said in a tweet.
As per sources, IT raids were also conducted in Lucknow-based TV channel Bharat Samachar and the Gomtinagar residence of its editor, Brijesh Mishra, and even some reporters.
The channel is owned by Time Today Media Network and was relaunched in 2017 as a Hindi channel with focus on Uttar Pradesh. It had extensively covered the Hathras rape case and the COVID-19 crisis in UP, by aggressively questioning the state government.
Income Tax raids at the Lucknow offices of the Bharat Samachar News Channel , run by @brajeshlive .Sources say a 6 - 7 member team of the IT department is here going through papers. News operations are unhindered.The channel has gone on air to say this is an attack on free press pic.twitter.com/WTHEjg2BSQ— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) July 22, 2021
Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal chief minister tweetd: "The attack on journalists and 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," she tweeted.
She added: "I strongly condemn this vindictive act that aims to suppress voices that bring out the TRUTH. It's a grave violation that undermines the very principles of democracy. Urging everyone in the Media to stay strong. Together we shall never let the autocratic forces succeed.”
The Samajwadi Party (SP) on its Twitter handle said when a "coward" government is "afraid", it uses central agencies like the ED, IT Department and the CBI against those opposing it.
"With the ink of truth, the government's corruption, mismanagement during the Covid pandemic, false claims and hollow announcements were exposed by Dainik Bhaskar. Countrywide raids on it are condemnable," the party tweeted.
TMC MP, Mahua Moitra, said: IT raids on Dainik Bhaskar offices & promoter homes - post their reporting on devastation of 2nd Covid wave. If you don’t crawl like GodiMedia then pay price!
IT raids on Dainik Bhaskar offices & promoter homes - post their reporting on devastation of 2nd Covid wave.— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) July 22, 2021
If you don’t crawl like GodiMedia then pay price!
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.