After a series of Income, Tax raids were held at the premises of Dainik Bhaskar and Uttar Pradesh-based TV channel Bharat Samachar, The Editors Guild of India expressed concern over government agencies being used as a coercive tool to suppress free and independent journalism.
“The Editors Guild of India is concerned about the Income Tax raids on July 22, at the offices of country’s leading newspaper group, Dainik Bhaskar, as well as Lucknow based independent news channel, Bharat Samachar. They come against the backdrop of in-depth reporting on the pandemic by Dainik Bhaskar, which brought to fore the gross mismanagement by government authorities and the immense loss of human lives,” the Guild said in a statement.
“In a recent webinar hosted by the Guild, Om Gaur, the National Editor of Bhaskar, had stated that their advertising from government departments had been cut after the recent critical coverage of state authorities. He had also written an op-ed in the New York Times, headlined ‘The Ganges Is Returning the Dead. It Does Not Lie,” the statement read.
On Bharat Samachar, the Editors Guild said that it is one of the few channels in UP that has been asking difficult questions from the state government with respect to pandemic management.
“Notwithstanding the merits of the case, the timing of these raids is concerning given the recent critical coverage by both the organizations,” the statement added.
The editors’ body also raised concerns over the Enforcement Directorate searches in February at the office of NewsClick.in, “which had been at the frontline of reporting on the farmer’s agitation and the anti-CAA protests”.
The Media group Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar channel were raided by Income Tax officials who launched searches in their offices across the country. Both media organizations have been accused of tax evasion and floating shell companies.