Tax authorities searched BBC India's offices

Police officers watch as income tax officials search a building in New Delhi, India that houses the BBC offices

Income tax authorities have searched BBC offices in India as part of an investigation.

After airing a documentary in the UK that was critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the broadcaster conducted searches in New Delhi and Mumbai a few weeks later.

The documentary concentrated on the prime minister's involvement in the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, when he was the state's chief minister.

The BBC claimed to be "fully cooperating" with law enforcement.

An additional brief statement stated, "We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.

India's government has made an effort to prevent people from sharing India: The Modi Question online despite the fact that it was only broadcast on television in the UK. They do this by labeling the documentary "hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage" with a "colonial mindset.".

Police in Delhi detained students last month as they gathered to watch the movie.

The search on Tuesday "reeks of desperation and demonstrates that the Modi government is afraid of criticism," according to KC Venugopal, president of the opposition Congress party.

"We strongly condemn these intimidation techniques. This dictatorial and anti-democratic behavior must stop, he tweeted.

The film follows Mr. Modi's entry into politics and his ascent through the BJP's ranks to become Gujarat's chief minister.

It draws attention to a report that had not previously been released and was obtained by the BBC from the UK Foreign Office. It raises concerns about Mr. Modi's conduct during the religious riots.

The rioting started the day after dozens of Hindu pilgrims were killed when a train carrying them was set on fire. The ensuing violence claimed more than 1,000 lives, primarily Muslims.

According to a report from the Foreign Office, Mr. Modi was "directly responsible" for the "climate of impunity" that encouraged the violence.

The report was a component of the investigation that then-UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw ordered. According to the statement, "the aim of the riots was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas" and "the extent of violence was much greater than reported.".

Mr. Modi has long denied all of the charges leveled against him and has not expressed regret for the riots. A Supreme Court panel also stated in 2013 that there was insufficient proof to charge him.

The Indian government was given the opportunity to respond to the documentary, according to the BBC's report from last month, but it declined.

The broadcaster claimed that the movie was "rigorously researched" and that "a wide range of voices, witnesses, and experts were approached." They also claimed that "we have featured a range of opinions, including responses from people in the BJP.".

Last month, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was questioned in front of Parliament by MP Imran Hussain about whether he agreed that Mr. Modi was solely to blame for the violence and what else the foreign office knew about his involvement in this horrific act of ethnic cleansing.

We don't tolerate persecution anywhere, Mr. Sunak added, but he also objected to the way Mr. Modi had been painted.

In India, it is common practice to target groups deemed to be anti-government.

After accusing the government of conducting a "witch-hunt" against human rights organizations, Amnesty International was forced to cease operations in India in 2020.

Along with other neighborhood non-government organizations, Oxfam was also searched the previous year.

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