BBC India: MPs describe the searches in Delhi and Mumbai as intimidation

Outside a BBC office in New Delhi, India, there are armed guards

British lawmakers have called the tax authorities' searches of the BBC's offices in India "intimidation.".

When offices in Delhi and Mumbai were targeted last week, some staff members were interrogated overnight.

A recent documentary by the BBC, which is helping with the investigation, was broadcast in the UK and was critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Minister for the Foreign Office David Rutley stated that the government is closely monitoring the situation.

During a Tuesday Commons debate, shadow minister for Labour Fabian Hamilton stated that "criticism cannot be shut down unnecessarily" in a democracy.

Regardless of the official explanation for why the India searches occurred, the Labour MP expressed concern about the reason behind them.

"The BBC is a globally renowned broadcaster, and rightfully so, for its high-quality, reliable reporting. It should be free to report and to operate without fear," he continued. ".

Searches were "a deliberate act of intimidation following the release of an unfavorable documentary about the country's leader," according to Jim Shannon of the DUP.

He requested that the government call the Indian High Commission to discuss the situation.

Sir Julian Lewis, a conservative, also called the searches "extremely worrying.".

David Rutley, a minister in the Foreign Office, declined to comment directly on the situation but added: "Respect for the rule of law, an independent media, and freedom of speech are essential components of an effective democracy. ".

Narendra Modi arriving at the parliament building in New Delhi, India
The Narendra Modi documentary has received harsh criticism from the Indian government.

it was a documentary. The Modi Issue in India. focused on the state's chief minister at the time, the prime minister's role in Gujarat's anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

In an effort to prevent it from airing domestically, the Indian government has labeled it "hostile propaganda" and has detained Delhi students who attended a screening.

The income tax authorities have left our offices in Delhi and Mumbai, according to a BBC spokesperson. We will continue to work with the authorities, and we hope the situation can be resolved quickly.

"Our top priority is the welfare of the staff, some of whom have had to endure protracted interrogations or overnight stays. Our production has returned to normal, and we're still dedicated to helping our audiences in India and elsewhere.

"The BBC is a reputable, independent media outlet, and we support our colleagues and journalists who will continue to report objectively. ".

After the raid, the India Central Board of Direct Taxes asserted that it had gathered "crucial evidence" and discovered "several discrepancies and inconsistencies.".

"The department gathered several evidences pertaining to the operation of the organization which indicate that tax has not been paid on certain remittances which have not been disclosed as income in India by the foreign entities of the group," it was stated in a statement.

. "

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