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All entities operating in India must comply with local laws: Jaishankar’s curt reply to UK minister on BBC row

Indian I-T sleuths uncovered many irregularities in BBC’s accounting books during a 3-day survey at its New Delhi and Mumbai offices last month.


oi-Deepika S


Google Oneindia News

During the bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in Delhi, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly raised the issue of the survey at the offices of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in New Delhi and Mumbai by the Income Tax Department. In a retort, Jaishankar firmly told the UK minister that all entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws and regulations.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

Last month, the Income Tax Department uncovered irregularities in the accounting books of the BBC following a three-day survey at its premises in Mumbai and Delhi. The survey came weeks after the BBC ran a propaganda docuseries that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership of Gujarat during the post-Godhra carnage riots in 2002.

The survey has thrown up discrepancies with regard to Transfer Pricing documentation, Asset and Risk analysis, incorrect use of comparables applicable to determine correct Arms Length Price and inadequate revenue apportionment. The operation has resulted in the unearthing of crucial evidence by way of statements from BBC employees and digital records.

UK govt opposes survey at BBC

However, the UK government strongly defended the BBC and expressed concern regarding the I-T surveys conducted on the media giant, during a session in the country’s Parliament. “We stand up for the BBC. We fund the BBC. We think the BBC World Service is vital. We want the BBC to have that editorial freedom,” said David Rutley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

“It criticises us (government), it criticises the (Opposition) Labour party, and it has that freedom that we believe is so important. That freedom is key, and we want to be able to communicate its importance to our friends across the world, including the Government in India,” he said.

BBC’s docuseries on PM Modi

The BBC, which has all along attempted to isolate Hindus by selectively reporting crimes by and against Hindus, came up with a two-part series that discusses PM Modi’s role in the post-Godhra carnage riots in Gujarat in 2002. Opposition parties, particularly the Congress-Left-liberal cabal, used the opportunity to target and viciously attack Narendra Modi wherever he went.

In an exclusive interview last week, Jaishankar termed the BBC series as “politics by another means”. “Sometimes politics of India doesn’t even originate in its borders, it comes from outside. We are not debating just a documentary or a speech that somebody gave in a European city or a newspaper edit somewhere. We are debating, actually, politics, which is being conducted ostensibly by the media. There is a phrase ‘war by other means’… this is politics by another means. I mean you will do a hatchet job… and say this is just another quest for truth which we decided after 20 years, to put at this time,” he said.

The External Affairs Minister also questioned the timing of the series as India is prepping up for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “I mean, come on, you think the timing is accidental? Let me tell you one thing – I don’t know if the election season has started in India, Delhi, or not. But for sure, it has started in London, New York,” he added.

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