The Income Tax department is conducting raids on premises owned by the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper group over alleged tax evasion, news agencies and outlets have reported.
Searches are being carried out at multiple locations by multiple teams, including the newspaper’s promoters’ residences and offices, news agency ANI has reported.
Raid locations are spread across Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal and Indore), Rajasthan’s Jaipur and Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, according to a senior editor of the paper, who spoke to NDTV
Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also tweeted that raids were on in “half a dozen” locations, including at Bhopal’s Press Complex.
The former chief minister also tweeted that this was a “vindictive” act and an example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Gujarat” governance model.
This is the second time in recent months that a news outlet has been raided over government claims of economic offences. In February, the Enforcement Directorate raided the residences of several officials and journalists associated NewsClick.in, with an independent media portal based in Delhi for several days. The Delhi high court in early July granted its editor-in-chief extension on protection from arrest.
Headquartered in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal, Dainik Bhaskar is among the most circulated Hindi dailies in the country.
In the last few months, Dainik Bhaskar‘s editions had focused on in-depth coverage of the pandemic, bringing the everyday issues that the second wave brought, out in the forefront.
A report on Dainik Bhaskar’s coverage on Newslaundry points out that the paper had been indefatigable in highlighting aspects of COVID-19 mismanagement that the governments at the Union and in states did not want known.
Their coverage recently tackled the avowed cluelessness displayed by governments by publishing the number of the state BJP chief, C.R. Patil, who claimed to possess a stash of remdesivir when the injection was scarce. When Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani was asked about it, he had reportedly asked reporters to ask Patil, thus paving the way for the newspaper to run a headline with Patil’s number so people could do just that.
Om Gaur, one of the editors of the paper, had also written an op-ed on the New York Times, headlined ‘The Ganges Is Returning the Dead. It Does Not Lie.’
The paper has also been one of the few Hindi dailies to maintain coverage as The Wire, along with 16 other media partners, releases reports of possible and successful surveillance on politicians, journalists, activists and others with the use of the Pegasus spyware which is sold to government clients by the Israeli NSO Group.
The findings of the Pegasus project had noted that regional newspapers have been more enthusiastic about explaining the Pegasus software to their readers with the help of infographics, unlike some national and business dailies which preferred to put the story on the back pages.
Opposition’s upsurge on Income Tax Department raids on Dainik Bhaskar premises: