The Income Tax Department conducted raids in various premises of Dainik Bhaskar, stating multiple charges of tax evasion. The raid was initiated during the early hours of July 22 at multiple locations of Dainik Bhaskar, including Delhi, Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Premises of Uttar Pradesh based Hindi news channel Bharat Samachar and spaces of its promoters were also raided at the same time. IT officials stated that the raids were based on “conclusive evidence of tax fraud” by the channel.
The IT department issued no such official statement. The offices and residences of the promoters were searched as per the reports of PTI.
Opposition leaders allege that the media group was raided as reported by the Modi government’s Covid mismanagement.
In a tweet, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh stated that “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.”
Various political leaders, including Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal and Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, also accursed the actions of the IT officials.
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took over Twitter to express her dissatisfaction while calling it “a brutal attempt to stifle democracy”.
Images of newspaper reports on undercounting of Covid deaths were circulated over Twitter by social media users saying that the raids were a “result of true journalism”.
In defence, Anurag Thakur, Minister of the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, dissociated the government from the Income Tax action in his statement. At a cabinet briefing, he said, “Agencies do their work. We don’t interfere in their functioning. I would also like to say that facts need to be found before reporting any incident. Sometimes lack of information is misleading.
Being one of the largest newspaper organisations in the country, Dainik Bhaskar has been aggressively reporting on the scale of devastation in the second wave of COVID-19 in April-May and its aftermath.
The dailies from the group carried a series of reports critical of the official claims during the pandemic, which saw the country’s healthcare system overwhelmed.