New Delhi:Addressing the simultaneous raids conducted at the premises of media group Dainik Bhaskar and another Uttar Pradesh-based news channel, Bharat Samachar, Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur said that the government does not interfere with the functioning of the Income Tax Department.
Thakur said that agencies do their own work, and the government does not interfere in their functioning. Opposition leaders have condemned the crackdown as a reaction to criticising the government, reported NDTV.
Today morning, the Income Tax Department and the local police searched around 30 premises including offices and homes of owners of Dainik Bhaskar in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. An Income Tax team searched the Lucknow office of Bharat Samachar and the editor's home.
The raids are being said to be based on "conclusive evidence of tax fraud".
Opposition leaders alleged that the raids at Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar and the news channel Bharat Samachar are due to their reports on Covid "mismanagement" by the Modi government.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the raids are a "brutal attempt to stifle democracy". She called the raids an "attack on journalists and media houses". Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted that Dainik Bhaskar has exposed the Modi regime's monumental mismanagement of the pandemic and now it is paying the price.
Dainik Bhaskar was at the forefront of reporting the scale of devastation the second wave of the pandemic caused in India. The Hindi daily published reports of a shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, and vaccines.It also exposed the sight of the bodies of Covid victims floating in the Ganga.
The New York Times had published an op-ed by Dainik Bhaskar editor Om Gaur titled "The Ganges Is Returning the Dead. It Does Not Lie", which was extremely critical of the government's handling of the pandemic.
Meanwhile,Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that it is a brazen attempt to suppress the voice of the media. Former Minister for Communications & Information Technology of India, Arun Shourie called the incidents "an undeclared emergency".