Defiant Hindi daily says ‘Bhaskar will run only at the discretion of the readers’
NEW DELHI — The Income Tax Department on Thursday carried out searches in the offices of Dainik Bhaskar in five states on the alleged charges of tax evasions.
A team of taxmen also searched the Lucknow office of a local television channel Bharat Samachar and its editor’s home in the city.
Dainik Bhaskar is one of India’s largest selling Hindi newspapers.
Teams of the I-T department raided offices located in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, the newspaper said in an a article soon after the raids began.
It also put out a tweet in Hindi, which read, “I am free, because I am Bhaskar. Bhaskar will run only at the discretion of the readers.”
Bhaskar said that the I-T teams also conducted searches at the homes of many people working in the organisation, adding that mobile phones of employees present in the offices have been confiscated and they are not being allowed to go out.
Employees on the night shift were barred from leaving the office, and told that they are part of the process. However, Bhaskar’s digital night team was allowed to leave at 12:30 pm.
The newspaper said that during the second wave of Covid in April-May this year it presented the real situation in India to the country through its reportage, whether it was bodies in the Ganga or hiding deaths due to COVID-19.
“Bhaskar showed fearless journalism and kept the truth in front of the public,” the newspaper said, and added screenshots of their various reports on the topics.
Meanwhile, Three Chief Ministers of opposition-ruled states were among those who denounced the raids on Dainik Bhaskar as well as Bharat Samachar.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a brutal attempt to stifle democracy.
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! (2/2)
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) July 22, 2021
The government could not tolerate even “an iota” of criticism, wrote Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
In a tweet Gehlot said: 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.
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 Arvind Kejriwal said the raids were an attempt to terrorise the media. “The message is clear – whoever speaks against the BJP government will not be spared. This is a dangerous mentality. All should raise their voice against this. These raids should be stopped immediately and the media should be allowed to function freely,” wrote the Delhi Chief Minister.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “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”.
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. https://t.co/EVLHGisGTq
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 22, 2021