The Income Tax Department raided Dainik Bhaskar Group's premises in Jaipur, Bhopal, and other locations across the country, officials told PTI on Thursday, 22 July.
Additionally, the I-T department also searched the Lucknow premises of news channel Bharat Samachar as well as the home of its Editor-in-Chief Brajesh Mishra.
The Narendra Modi government has been censured by political leaders, activists, journalists, lawyers as well organisations like the Editor's Guild of India for instituting a culture of suppressing dissenting voices seeking accountability from the government.
In recent months, this is the second time that a news media house has been raided for 'tax evasions'. Let's have a look at raids conducted by central agencies in recent years.
The Enforcement Directorate in February 2021 had carried out raids at the premises of many officials and journalists working with NewsClick.in, an independent, Delhi-based media platform for several days.
The searches started around 10 am. An officer outside the NewsClick office, who refused to disclose his name, had stated that this was ‘just a routine check’, as per Newslaundry.
However, the ED was allegedly probing a money laundering case for taking foreign funding from some dubious companies abroad.
Newsclick put out an editorial about the raids, stating that they ensure cooperation with authorities and had nothing to hide.
The official statement added, "It has become a routine practice with the present government to deploy government-controlled agencies to deal with all those who disagree with and criticise the government.”
Income Tax (I-T) officials had also carried out a 22-hour-long raid at the offices of The Quint in October 2018. I-T officers were also present at the residence of The Quint’s founders –Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur.
According to the I-T officer leading the team, they were conducting a “search” on one floor of the office, and a “survey” on the other.
In a statement to the Editor's Guild, The Quint had said, "We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents."
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala gravely criticised the raids at the premises and stated, "Let me warn Modi government that it is an undeclared emergency and you have broken all records of decency by entering the newsroom of The Quint."
The News Minute
The government department had also conducted a survey at The News Minute (which Quintillion Media holds a stake in) in Bengaluru.
TNM is a Bengaluru-based news publisher with a focus on ground reports and analysis from south India.
Dhanya Rajendran, Editor-in-Chief of TNM had expressed, "We are complying with the requests of the officers at our premises.”
The Editor’s Guild had expressed “concern” over the simultaneous raids at The Quint and TNM's offices and tweeted, “The Guild believes that motivated Income Tax searches and surveys will seriously undermine media freedom and the government should desist from such attempts.”
In October 2020, the National Investigation Agency had conducted widespread searches in ten locations in Jammu and Kashmir, including the offices of the Union Territory's leading newspaper Greater Kashmir.
Srinagar-based Greater Kashmir is the largest circulated English daily of J&K.
NIA officials were assisted by the local police and the Central Reserve Police Forces during the raids.
Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) had reacted to the raids and said, "Kashmir media continues to get targeted, demonised, vilified, and raided by both the state and non-state actors for a long time now," and expressed concern over the “mounting cost” of being a journalist in Kashmir.
As far back as 2017, during the BJP government's first term, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had raided the offices and homes of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy over allegations of a bank fraud and drawn criticism from venerated media houses across the globe.
In an official communication, the media house had stated, "This is a blatant political attack on the freedom of the press as sources confirm that under pressure, the CBI has been compelled to file an FIR" and accused the "disgruntled former consultant" of NDTV Sanjay Dutt of making false allegations.