Dainik Bhaskar: Indian tax officials raid newspaper that took on Narendra Modi

The entrance to the Bhopal offices of Hindi-language Dainik Bhaskar daily newspaper.

GAGAN NAYAR/AFP/Getty Images

The entryway to the Bhopal workplaces of Hindi-language Dainik Bhaskar everyday paper.


New Delhi
CNN Company
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Tax authorities in India robbed a number of workplaces of among the world’s biggest-selling papers on Thursday, a relocation reporters and leading opposition political leaders explained as an attack on press liberty.

The paper, Dainik Bhaskar, stated that tax inspectors visited its workplaces in the capital New Delhi and the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in the morning.

The paper surprised India with its reporting of dead bodies in the river Ganges throughout the harsh 2nd wave of the Covid-19 pandemic this spring. It slammed authorities for under-reporting Covid-19 deaths and challenged state authorities and the federal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over their handling of the crisis.

“The government has clamped down on the group that represented an accurate picture of what happened to the country during the second wave of Covid-19,” the paper composed in a report on the tax raid released Thursday on the homepage of its Hindi edition. The 63-year-old business likewise releases papers in Gujarati and Marathi languages.

In its report, the paper included that tax authorities likewise robbed the houses of a number of Dainik Bhaskar workers, and took the phones of those who existed in its workplaces.

“The government is doing its job, and we are doing our job,” Om Gaur, the nationwide editor at Dainik Bhaskar informed CNN Company. “The truth is always bitter, but we crosscheck all our facts before publishing,”

In May, Gaur had actually led the paper’s protection of remains drifting in the Ganges, as the main death toll from Covid-19 started crossing 4,000 a day. Nevertheless, both Indian and worldwide specialists state that these numbers do disappoint the real photo.

Security personnel at the Bhopal home of Sudhir Agrawal, managing director of Dainik Bhaskar. His residence was raided by Indian officials as part of a tax investigation.

GAGAN NAYAR/AFP/Getty Images

Security workers at the Bhopal house of Sudhir Agrawal, handling director of Dainik Bhaskar. His home was robbed by Indian authorities as part of a tax examination.

A working paper released today by the US-based Center for Global Advancement discovered that the variety of excess deaths throughout India’s pandemic might be as much as 10 times the authorities toll.

In between 3.4 million and 4.9 million approximated excess deaths were reported in India in between January 2020 and June 2021, the United States think tank stated — compared to the Indian health ministry’s reported death toll of roughly 400,000.

“State officials have tried to stop our coverage several times in the past few days, and have even threatened us with a court case,” Gaur had actually informed CNN Company in May.

A representative for the Central Board of Direct Taxes did not react to an ask for remark from CNN Company. However a number of leading opposition political leaders stated that the paper was being penalized for releasing vital reports about Modi’s handling of the 2nd wave.

“Nobody would have thought the Modi government would be so scared, ” the national opposition party, Congress, tweeted in response to the raid.

“The attack on journalists & media houses is yet another BRUTAL attempt to stifle democracy,” wrote Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the state of West Bengal and leader of a regional opposition party, in a Twitter post. “#DainikBhaskar bravely reported the way @narendramodi ji mishandled the entire #COVID crisis and led the country to its most horrifying days amid a raging pandemic.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is from a smaller opposition party, said that the raids were a clear signal that Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will not forgive those who challenge it.

“This is a very dangerous way of thinking,” he added in a tweet in Hindi. Kejriwal also retweeted a post from Dainik Bhaskar’s account which said “I am Independent.”

The Press Club of India, meanwhile, said it “deplores such acts of intimidation by the government through enforcement agencies to deter the independent media from discharging their duty to serve the society.”

According to Reporters Without Borders, India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists “trying to do their job properly.” It ranks India 142 out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Index.

In 2017, India’s Central Bureau of Investigation raided the offices and homes of founders of NDTV, a leading broadcaster that is often seen as critical of Modi government. The agency stated that it was investigating a bank loan, while NDTV had called it an attempt to undermine “democracy and free speech in India.”

— Esha Mitra contributed to this report

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long included to this report.