Drive to Stifle Press Freedom, Says Congress on I-T Raids at BBC Offices

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NEW DELHI — The Congress on Tuesday attacked the government over the income tax survey at the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai, alleging that it is a drive to stifle press freedom.

“No institution is above the law, but the raids by 20 tax officials on the @BBC’s Delhi & Mumbai offices &studios are a deplorable own-goal. They will be seen worldwide as petty retaliation for the BBC documentary & as confirmation of the BJP Govt’s drive to stifle press freedom,” tweeted Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that BBC is next on the target after Amnesty and Oxfam.

“Government message to all citizens and organisations is “behave, or else.”

Government’s definition of freedom of the press is “we are a free country, you are free to express your opinion as long as it agrees with mine,” he said.

“Practically shutting down Amnesty International and OXFAM, the BBC is next in line. Shameful!” he added.

Income tax department officials on Tuesday conducted “survey” operations at the BBC’s Delhi and Mumbai offices, according to sources.

The development has come just weeks after the BBC released a two-part documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi titled “India: The Modi Question”.

According to reports, employees of the broadcasting corporation were asked not to use their computer systems and phones, even personal ones.

Reports quoting sources said the employees working in the afternoon shift at the BBC’s Delhi office were asked to work from home, while those present in office were asked to leave early. — IANS

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