New Delhi: Weeks after a major uproar over the BBC documentary series on Modi and claims relating to the 2002 Gujarat violence, Income Tax authorities conducted a ‘survey’ at the BBC headquarters in Delhi and Mumbai on Tuesday morning.
The tax authorities were conducting a “survey” into claims of irregularities in international taxation and transfer pricing involving the BBC, NDTV reported quoting sources. The report said some journalists’ phones and documents were seized.
“We needed some clarifications and for that our team is visiting the BBC office and we are carrying out a survey. Our officers have gone to check account books, these are not searches,” Income Tax sources told NDTV.
Last week, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking complete ban on BBC in India over its documentary on Modi and allegations linked to the 2002 Gujarat violence. The court called the plea “entirely misconceived”.
“How can a documentary affect the country,” the Supreme Court questioned, rejecting a petition by Hindu Sena chief Vishnu Gupta seeking a ban on Britain’s national broadcaster operating in India.
“Completely misconceived, how can this be argued also? You want us to put complete censorship? What is this?” asked a two-judge bench.
The judges said: “Let us not waste any more time. The writ petition is entirely misconceived and has no merit. Thus, dismissed.”
Pertinently, in a documentary released by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), it has been claimed that a team sent by the British government to investigate the 2002 violence in Gujarat found Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of the state, “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence.
The documentary titled “India: The Modi Question”, was, however, pulled down from YouTube on Wednesday, a day after its release.
The British inquiry team alleged that Modi had prevented the Gujarat Police from acting to stop violence targeted at Muslims, the BBC documentary claimed.
Speaking to the BBC, former foreign secretary, Jack Straw (2001-2006) said he was personally involved in the investigations as the data and results provided were alarming.
“I was very worried about it. I took a great deal of personal interest because India is an important country with whom we (the UK) have relations. And so, we had to handle it very carefully,” Straw told the BBC, adding, “What we did was establish an inquiry and have a team go to Gujarat and find out for themselves what had happened. And they produced a very thorough report.”
A former British diplomat, who remains anonymous, described the whole event as a pogrom. To our readers, a pogrom is a term used when there is an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group. In this case, it was the Muslims, the former diplomat said.
“At least 2000 people were murdered during the violence where the vast majority were Muslims. We described it as a pogrom– a deliberate, and politically driven effort targeted at the Muslim community,” the former diplomat told the BBC.
Pertinently, on 28 February 2002, Hindu mobs who were part of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unleashed massive violence against Muslims in Gujarat that went on for weeks killing thousands of Muslims.
About 3,000 Muslims were killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship were destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people were displaced.