New Delhi: Calling the tax raids on Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar an attempt to scare the media, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday (July 22) demanded that such actions be stopped immediately and the media be allowed to work freely. Reacting to the raids, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Income tax raids on Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar are an attempt to scare the media. The message is clear — those who speak against the BJP government will not be spared. Such thinking is very dangerous. Everyone should raise their voice against it. These raids should be stopped immediately and the media should be allowed to work freely.”
Delhi Chief Minister also urged the raids should stop immediately and the media should be allowed to function freely. The Income Tax Department carried out multi-city raids across several states against prominent media group Dainik Bhaskar as well as Uttar Pradesh-based TV channel Bharat Samachar for alleged tax evasion, drawing a sharp response from several quarters, sources said.
The raids against the multi-media Dainik Bhaskar group — which has presence in 12 states and runs newspapers as well as operates radio stations, web portals and mobile phone apps — were taking place in 30 locations, including Bhopal, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Noida, sources said. The searches started around 5.30 am and were going on till evening. “The group is also involved in textiles and mining businesses and the department is also looking into these transactions,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
There was no official word from the Income Tax Department or its policy-making body, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), on the searches targeting the promoters and staffers of Dainik Bhaskar, and Bharat Samachar. 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.
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 immediately clear if the raids were connected to the media groups.