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India tax officials raid BBC offices after film on Modi

February 14, 2023

Police have sealed off the British broadcaster's offices in India. The searches came weeks after India banned BBC's critical documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and called it "hostile propaganda."

A police officer stands outside the BBC office building in New Delhi.
Indian tax authorities raided the BBC's New Delhi officesImage: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

Indian tax authorities on Tuesday raided the BBC's New Delhi offices, staff members of the broadcaster told news agencies. 

The raid comes just weeks after the BBC released a documentary critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

A BBC employee based in the Delhi office told the AFP news agency that officials had occupied two floors in the building housing the broadcaster's offices.

Authorities were raiding the BBC's Delhi and Mumbai offices, reported the Press Trust of India news agency, quoting officials who were not identified.

BBC News said on Tuesday that it was fully cooperating with India's income tax authorities at its offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

"The Income Tax Authorities are currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating," the
British broadcaster said in a Twitter post. "We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible." 

Indian government angered by BBC documentary  

In January, the BBC released a two-part documentary called "India: The Modi Question" alleging that Modi had ordered the police to turn a blind eye to the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, where he was premier at the time. 

The violence left at least 1,000 people dead, most of them minority Muslims.

Reporters stand outside the BBC office in New Delhi.
The raid comes just weeks after the BBC released a documentary critical of Modi. Image: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

The Indian government blocked videos and tweets sharing links to the documentary using emergency powers under its information technology laws. 

Authorities scrambled to halt screenings of the program and restricted its clips on social media. 

India's Foreign Ministry said the film "lacked objectivity" and called it  a "propaganda piece designed to push a particularly discredited narrative."

The BBC responded with a statement, saying the documentary was "rigorously researched.''

"We offered the Indian Government a right to reply to the matters raised in the series, it declined to respond,'' the statement said.

ns/fb (AFP, AP, Reuters)