Congress slams govt for IT raids on media houses; calls it a blot on Indian democracy

Addressing a press conference, senior leader Abhishek Singhvi said, "The IT raid on Dainik Bhaskar highlights the dangerous, dismissive, and draconian nature of the BJP government"

Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Abhishek Manu Singhvi (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

NH Web Desk

The Congress on Thursday slammed the government over IT raids on media houses and said that instead of protecting the nation, central agencies have now begun to act as poachers for intimidating the whistleblowers.

Addressing a press conference, senior leader Abhishek Singhvi said, "The IT raid on Dainik Bhaskar highlights the dangerous, dismissive, and draconian nature of the BJP government."

"How should we define whatever happened today? There are many words - totalitarianism, tyranny, dictatorship, fascism, authoritarianism, autocracy, despotism, absolutism, caesarism, and so on and so forth," he added.

He said that the newspaper was raided as its reportage exposed the grisly sight of bodies of Covid victims floating in the Ganga and washing up on the banks in towns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, possibly thrown into the river because of the lack of means to cremate them. The reports also revealed bodies buried in shallow graves by the river in UP.

The Congress leader cited more examples of misusing central agencies to harass the media houses or people related to media who/which either criticise the government or present a view point which is contrary to the one propagated by the government:

  • An Uttar Pradesh television channel, Bharat Samachar, was also raided. An Income Tax team searched the Lucknow office and also the editor's home to examine tax documents, according to sources. Bharat Samachar's recent reporting has been critical of the UP government.

  • In January 2021, Enforcement Directorate raided Newsclick’s New Delhi office, as well as the homes of its editor-in-chief, Prabir Purkayastha, one other editor, and two members of its management, according to a senior editor with the outlet.

  • After filing a case against online news platform - 'The Wire' - and several others over tweets linked to the assault of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad, the state police have filed another case against the news website - this time in Barabanki. In the FIR filed over a documentary on the demolition of a mosque in Barabanki, which the authorities describe as an "unauthorised structure", the news website has been accused of "promoting enmity" and holding an "intent to cause riot".

  • On 11 October 2018, a few income tax (I-T) officials conducted a 22-hour-long raid ending on Friday morning at the office of Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd in Noida, which runs the website The Quint, and is owned by Raghav Bahl.

  • In June 2017, the CBI raided the home of the NDTV promoter Prannoy Roy under the charges of tax evasion.

  • In March 2021, the Income Tax Department raided premises linked to the filmmakers, including Anurag Kashyap, who launched the now dissolved production house Phantom Films, Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhashish Sarkar and Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu.

The Income Tax Department has conducted searches at the offices of media entity Dainik Bhaskar at several locations across the country over alleged tax evasion.

According to people in the know, raids have been conducted at the Bhopal, Indore, Jaipur and Ahmedabad premises of the Dainik Bhaskar group.

The Income Tax Department is conducting a search at the offices of Bharat Samachar News channel also and the residences of its promoters and Editor-in-Chief.

With IANS inputs

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