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Income tax conducts ‘survey’ at BBC’s Delhi, Mumbai offices; employees’ phones, computers seized

BBC has been accused of biased coverage recently

Income Tax officials are conducting ‘survey’ operations on the Indian offices of the British public broadcaster BBC in both Delhi and Mumbai, sources said on Tuesday.

According to sources, the IT officials were verifying certain account documents in the finance department of BBC. Income tax officials arrived at BBC offices located at the national capital’s KG Marg for the survey. The British broadcaster’s office at Kalina Santacruz in Mumbai was also surveyed, sources said adding that the survey was limited to business premises of BBC only.

According to reports, a team of IT officials arrived at the BBC Studios office in Kalina Santacruz around 11.30 am today and survey is going on since then. There is no IT activity at the BBC News office at Linking road Bandra West.

It is learnt that the tax officials are conducting verification of certain account documents in the finance department of the BBC offices.

During the investigation, the mobile phones of all the employees present in the BBC office have been taken away by the Income Tax team. The data of the computer kept in the accounts and finance department was also scanned. According to sources, officials said the devices will be returned to their owners after taking a backup.

The searches come weeks after the BBC released a documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi – ‘India: The Modi Question,” which caused a controversy.

On January 21, the Centre had issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the controversial BBC documentary on PM Modi. The Supreme Court had on February 3 directed the central government to produce original records relating to its decision to block the BBC documentary.

Student unions at several varsities including JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi University, Panjab University and those in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country had organised screenings of the documentary.

Meanwhile, earlier today Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said the government is after the BBC instead of accepting an Opposition demand on a Joint Parliamentary Committee on Adani-Hindenburg matter.

TMC’s Mahua Moitra also took to Twitter and wrote, “Reports of Income Tax raid at BBC’s Delhi office. Wow, really? How unexpected.”

“Central Govt has embarrassed itself and the Country by raiding offices of BBC,” Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said in a tweet.