‘BBC must follow Indian laws’, EAM S Jaishankar’s counter reply to UK on issues of BBC tax searches

The United Kingdom Foreign minister James Cleverly raised the issue of BBC tax searches with India’s Foreign Minister S Jaishankar during a bilateral meeting on Wednesday.

James Cleverly is in India to attend a crucial meeting of the G20 foreign ministers on March 1 and 2.
In response to Cleverly, the EAM firmly told that all entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws and regulations, reported ANI news agency.

Last month, the income tax department carried out an intensive survey in BBC’s New Delhi and Mumbai offices which made headlines as it came amid a row over the BBC’s controversial documentary on prime minister Narendra Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots.

BBC’s offices were searched for three days, after which the I-T department claimed its income was ‘not commensurate with scale of operations in India’. According to media reports, officials also indicated that the BBC had not paid some taxes.

It is widely believed that the survey took place after BBC released the two-part documentary, ‘India: The Modi Question’, that was critical of PM Narendra Modi who was then the chief minister of the Gujrat state during 2002 riots.

The Indian government had banned the BBC documentary and issued directions to block Twitter posts and YouTube videos sharing links which triggered protests across India.
Meanwhile, the UK government publicly defended the broadcaster, with a representative repeatedly stating in the UK Parliament that it has brought these issues up with New Delhi.

“We stand up for the BBC. We fund the BBC. We think the BBC World Service is vitally important. We want the BBC to have that editorial freedom,” said David Rutley, parliamentary under-secretary for foreign, commonwealth, and development affairs, at a House of Commons debate on Tuesday headed “Raid of BBC Offices in India”.

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