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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Congress Condemns Government’s Crackdown on Press Freedom Following BBC Office Raids

The Congress party in India has criticized the Indian government’s recent searches of the offices of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in New Delhi and Mumbai. The searches were reportedly conducted by Income Tax officials in response to the release of a controversial documentary titled “India: The Modi Question” which examined the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots. Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge accused the ruling government of being “scared” of criticism and of assaulting the freedom of the press. He warned that no democracy can survive if institutions are used to attack the opposition and the media.

Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal also criticized the government’s actions, calling the Income Tax raids at the BBC offices a sign of desperation. He condemned the intimidation tactics and warned that the undemocratic and dictatorial attitude of the government cannot go on any longer.

The criticism comes amid a broader crackdown on dissent and criticism in India, with the government using a range of tactics to suppress opposition voices, including the arrest of activists, journalists, and academics. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has previously stated that constructive criticism is vital for a strong democracy, but criticized the previous nine years of his tenure for being marked by accusations and abuses hurled at the ruling dispensation.

The controversy surrounding the documentary and the subsequent actions of the government have raised concerns about the independence of the media and press freedom in India. The BBC has defended the documentary, stating that it is an impartial and balanced piece of journalism that presents a fair and accurate portrayal of events. The broadcaster has also criticized the Indian government’s attempts to restrict the film’s distribution, calling it a violation of freedom of expression and the press.

As of the 2022 editions of the index, India is ranked 150th out of 180 countries. This represents a decline of eight places from the previous year’s ranking. The report cites concerns about the Indian government’s crackdown on press freedom and the spread of disinformation in the country.

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