India raids media firms critical of government

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Security personnel stand guard at the residence of Sudhir Agrawal, Managing Director of the Hindi-language Dainik Bhaskar daily newspaper which was raided by Indian tax authorities, in Bhopal on July 22, 2021. AFP

Indian tax authorities on July 22 raided a prominent newspaper and a TV channel that have been critical of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, triggering accusations of intimidation.

There was no official comment from authorities on the raids against Hindi-language daily Dainik Bhaskar and the Bharat Samachar channel but local media quoted unnamed tax officials as saying they had “conclusive evidence of fraud”.

Bhaskar said on its website on July 22 in response to the raids that in the last 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 said.

Last month, the daily’s editor Om Gaur wrote an op-ed in the New York Times saying the bodies in the Ganges were symbolic of the “failures and deceptions” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration.

Bharat Samachar editor-in-chief Brijesh Mishra said the raids were harassment. “We are not afraid of these raids … we stand by the truth and the 240 million people of Uttar Pradesh” state, he was quoted as saying in Hindi on their website.