IT department denies making editorial interferences during raids, posts tweets

The Income Tax Department, on Thursday, denied interfering in the editorial process of media publications during raids. In a series of tweets, the IT department categorically mentioned that they were not involved in any sort of editorial work with the publications raided by them. Earlier in the day, some offices of Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar were raided by the department.

A search was carried out in the Dainik Bhaskar group offices under the Income Tax Act over allegations of huge tax evasion, government sources told ANI. They said 32 premises, consisting of residential and business premises spread over the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bhopal, Indore, Jaipur, Korba, Noida, and Ahmedabad have been covered. The sources said that search is being done under Section 132 of the Income Tax Act.

They said searches have been carried out after analysis of the departmental database, “banking enquiries and other discrete enquiries”.

The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha. It also came in for wide condemnation from several leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal.

“Agencies are doing their own work and there is no interference in them,” Union minister Anurag Thakur said in response to the criticism.

“One should take complete information and sometimes many issues come up that are far from truth…,” he said, replying to a question on the Congress’ allegation that the raids were intended to throttle the voice of democracy.

Both Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar have been critical of the COVID-19 management in the country and done numerous stories highlighting the failings of authorities and the distress of people during the second wave of the pandemic.

Giving details of the searches, sources said the premises of Bharat Samachar and its promoters and staffers were raided in Lucknow.

Bharat Samachar TV said on its official Twitter handle that searches are being conducted at the “house of its Editor-in-chief Brajesh Mishra, state head Virendra Singh, houses of some employees and the channel office”.

Tax sleuths also raided some premises linked to BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh’s Harraiya assembly seat Ajay Singh and his associates. It was, however, not clear if the raids were connected to the media groups.

In Bhopal, personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and the Madhya Pradesh police were seen providing security to tax officials searching the residential premises of Dainik Bhaskar’s promoters.

The group brings out 65 editions of newspapers and 211 sub-editions in Hindi, Gujarati and Marathi, according to information provided on the website of its parent company D B Corp Ltd.

It also operates 30 radio stations in seven states and has online presence with six web portals and four mobile phone apps.

(With inputs from agencies)

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