The income tax department carried out raids in several cities against the Bharat Samachar news channel, based in Dainik Bhaskar and Uttar Pradesh, on charges of tax evasion, official sources said.
Both Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar have criticized the management of Covid-19 in the country and made numerous stories highlighting the failures of the authorities and the anguish of the people during the second wave of the pandemic.
Opposition parties reacted strongly to the raids, accusing a “cowardly government” of using central agencies to “intimidate” critics. Some even equated the current atmosphere with an “undeclared emergency.”
However, the government dismissed these accusations.
‘No interference in the work of agencies’
The union’s broadcasting and information minister, Anurag Thakur, said the agencies are doing their job and there is no government interference in it.
He also cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“The agencies are doing their own work and there is no interference … Full information must be taken and in its absence, sometimes many issues arise that are far from the truth …”, he told reporters at a briefing. of the cabinet.
‘Attack on democracy’
Congress said that instead of protecting the nation, central agencies have now started acting as poachers to intimidate whistleblowers.
The party called the raids in both media outlets an “attack on democracy.”
Skinning the government, the UP Congress in a tweet he said: “Kamal ‘wale, kalam se darte hain (People with lotus flower are afraid of the feather)”.
‘The cowardly government is afraid’
The Samajwadi Party (SP) in its Twitter handle said that when a “cowardly” government is “scared,” it uses central agencies like the Department of Education, IT and the CBI against those who oppose it.
“With the ink of truth, Dainik Bhaskar exposed government corruption, mismanagement during the Covid pandemic, false claims and hollow advertisements. Raids across the country are reprehensible,” the party tweeted.
‘Isn’t this an undeclared emergency?’
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) criticized TI’s raids against the Dainik Bhaskar media group, saying that people need to know if this was not an “undeclared emergency.”
He also said that this media house had “fearlessly reported the failures of Uttar Pradesh Prime Minister Yogi Adityanath.”
On Twitter, NCP spokesman and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik said: “Since the reports of Snooping via #Pegasus spyware were made public, the central government has started targeting those who expose them. The latest victim en @DainikBhaskar, they have been fearlessly reporting on the failures of UP CM Mr. @myogiadityanath and to silence the voice of this media house and hide the truth, they are being attacked by income tax. ”
‘Brutal attempt to stifle democracy’
Mamata Banerjee called income tax raids a “brutal attempt” to stifle democracy and suppress the voices that bring out the truth.
The West Bengal prime minister said the raids were the result of reporting “mishandling” of the Covid-19 situation in the country.
‘Tax raids are trying to scare the media’
Calling the Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar tax raids an attempt to scare the media, Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that such actions be immediately stopped and that the media be allowed to work freely.
In reaction to the raids, Kejriwal tweeted: “The income tax raids on Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar are an attempt to scare the media. The message is clear: those who speak out against the BJP government are not They will save. Such thinking is very dangerous. Everyone should speak out against them. These raids should stop immediately and the media should be able to work freely. ”
‘Raid raj of the government will not work’
The CPM attacked the Union government for the income tax raids, accusing it of using central agencies to “intimidate.”
“The raid by the Modi government will not work. Trying to scare and silence the truth so that it does not surface. But like the corpses floating in the Ganges, the Modi government cannot hide. The misuse of central agencies to intimidate is reprehensible, “the CPM general tweeted. secretary Sitaram Yechury.
‘The Union government should not try to muzzle press freedom’
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Chairman Sukhbir Singh Badal condemned the income tax raids in the media, saying the groups were being targeted for exposing the NDA government’s “mismanagement” of the pandemic. from Covid-19, as well as asking tough questions about Union government surveillance of politicians, journalists and activists via Pegasus spyware.
In a statement, Badal said it was reprehensible that the NDA government had targeted the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar and the Bharat Samachar group because they had posed difficult questions to the government according to the high standards of journalism.
“The government of the Union should not try to muzzle press freedom in this way. The SAD strongly stands in solidarity with the media in this hour of crisis,” the statement said.
(With inputs from agencies)