April 13, 2024

Moon Desk: Indian tax authorities raided BBC’s New Delhi offices on Tuesday, weeks after it aired a documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s actions during deadly sectarian riots in 2002.

Police sealed off the building and half a dozen officers were stationed outside the office to stop entrance/exit into the office.

A BBC employee based in the office told AFP that the tax officials raided the office and the raiding team was in progress and the raiding team confiscated all phones of the staff. Last month, the broadcaster aired a two-part documentary alleging that Modi ordered police to turn a blind eye to sectarian riots in Gujarat state, where he was premier at the time. The violence left at least 1,000 people dead, most of them minority Muslims. India’s government blocked videos and tweets sharing links to the documentary using emergency powers under its information technology laws.

Government adviser Kanchan Gupta had slammed the documentary as “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage”.University student groups later organized viewings of the documentary despite campus bans, defying government efforts to stop its spread. Police arrested two dozen students at the prestigious Delhi University after stopping a screening there

Campaign of Violence’: The 2002 riots in Gujarat began after 59 Hindu pilgrims were killed in a fire on a train. Thirty-one Muslims were convicted of criminal conspiracy and murder over that incident.

The BBC documentary cited a previously classified British foreign ministry report quoting unnamed sources saying that Modi met senior police officers and “ordered them not to intervene” in the anti-Muslim violence by right-wing Hindu groups that followed.

The violence was “politically motivated” and the aim “was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas”, the foreign ministry report said.

The “systematic campaign of violence has all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing” and was impossible “without the climate of impunity created by the State Government. Narendra Modi is directly responsible”, it concluded.

Modi, who ran Gujarat from 2001 until his election as prime minister in 2014, was briefly subject to a travel ban by the United States over the violence.

A special investigative team appointed by India’s Supreme Court to probe the roles of Modi and others in the violence said in 2012 it did not find any evidence to prosecute the then chief minister.

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