Indian tax authorities on Thursday raided a outstanding newspaper and a TV channel which were vital of the federal government’s dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic, triggering accusations of intimidation.
There was no official remark from authorities on the raids in opposition to Hindi-language each day Dainik Bhaskar and the Bharat Samachar channel however native media quoted unnamed tax officers as saying that they had “conclusive evidence of fraud”.
Boasting a readership of thousands and thousands, Bhaskar has carried a collection of reviews on the devastation brought on by the pandemic in April and May and criticised the federal government’s administration of the disaster.
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The each day mentioned on its web site Thursday in response to the raids that within the final six months it had sought to “put the real situation in front of the country”.
“Be it the matter of (throwing) dead bodies in the Ganges or… hiding deaths due to corona, Bhaskar showed fearless journalism,” it mentioned.
At the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak, households in India’s north and east gave up the our bodies of their family members to the river or buried them in shallow graves on its banks, doubtless unable to afford the price of funeral pyres.
Last month, the each day’s editor Om Gaur wrote an op-ed within the New York Times saying the our bodies within the Ganges had been symbolic of the “failures and deceptions” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.
Brijesh Mishra, editor in chief of Bharat Samachar, mentioned the raids had been harassment.
“We are not afraid of these raids… we stand by the truth and the 240 million people of Uttar Pradesh,” he was quoted as saying in Hindi on their web site.
Modi’s authorities has lengthy been accused of trying to stifle vital reporting on the earth’s greatest democracy, one thing it denies.
On Reporters Without Borders’ 2021 press freedom index, India ranks 142nd out of 180 international locations.
Ashok Gehlot, chief minister of the northern state of Rajasthan, mentioned the raids had been a brazen try to suppress the media.
“Modi government cannot tolerate even an iota of its criticism,” Gehlot, who’s from the opposition Congress get together, wrote on Twitter.
New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the raids had been “an attempt to scare the media”.
India has formally reported 31 million coronavirus infections and over 400,000 deaths up to now, however consultants say the precise figures may very well be a lot greater.