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Dainik Bhaskar Raid: IT searches Dainik Bhaskar, opposition calls it attack on press freedom | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI/BHOPAL/JAIPUR: In a serious motion, earnings tax (I-T) officers on Thursday performed searches on 30 premises throughout a number of cities, together with Indore, Bhopal, Jaipur, Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Korba and Ahmedabad, in opposition to the Bhaskar media group and its promoters within the Panama paper leak case. The motion sparked protests from the opposition and media our bodies, which referred to as it an attack on press freedom.
The Bhaskar Group dubbed the motion as a retaliation in opposition to its aggressive protection of the pandemic. Government sources, nevertheless, refuted the cost, and stated the searches had been half of a probe into the alleged spherical-tripping by the Bhaskar Group, which has pursuits in different sectors, moreover media. I-T officers additionally performed searches on a UP-based mostly media group, Bharat Samachar, and its promoters in a distinct tax evasion case.

The three Agarwal brothers — Sudhir, Pawan and Girish — are promoters of the Bhaskar Group and management media conglomerate DB Corp Ltd, which has various investments in energy, textile and actual property with a turnover of round Rs 6,000 crore. The flagship DB Corp controls no less than 100 firms the place the I-T division has alleged massive-scale tax evasion and spherical-tripping of investments via the Mauritius route.

Several shell firms managed by the group allegedly have workers of the corporate as shareholders and administrators. Government sources claimed that the DB Group has figured within the 2016 Panama paper disclosure case, which is being probed by a multi-company group (MAG) consisting of the I-T division, Enforcement Directorate, Financial Intelligence Unit and the RBI. Astatement launched by the Bhaskar Group stated I-T raids had been performed on its premises in MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra for its aggressive journalism.
Laptops and cell phones of its editorial and digital workers had been seized regardless of these individuals having nothing to do with monetary transactions of the corporate, they usually had been detained illegally. News updates suffered for a number of hours, it stated. The opposition additionally linked the I-T motion to the media group’s reporting on alleged underneath-counting of Covid deaths and the matter was raised on Thursday within the Rajya Sabha by former MP CM Digvijaya Singh. Thereafter, a number of opposition politicians and events condemned the motion in opposition to Dainik Bhaskar.
Answering a query as as to whether the IT motion was an attack on journalism, info and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur stated the businesses had been working with none interference of the federal government and added it can be a folly to achieve conclusions on the idea of incomplete info.
The Panama paper leaks had point out of over 400 Indian entities however the multi-company inquiries later discovered solely 146 circumstances had been “actionable” wherein the federal government has up to now unearthed undisclosed earnings of greater than Rs 20,000 crore. While no official statements have been made by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, the apex cadre controlling I-T authority, on the searches on the 2 teams, authorities sources alleged that folks from the Bhaskar Group had been concerned in alleged spherical-tripping of investments. Round-tripping is an idea typically utilized in cash laundering contexts the place fictitious or shell firms registered in tax havens obtain deposits of undisclosed earnings and route them again to the beneficiary within the host nation as reliable overseas direct investments.
Sources stated that the Bhaskar Group has been on the radar of the tax authorities since 2016 and is being investigated together with different entities underneath the Black Money Act. “Many had their accounts in Singapore while their entities were registered in the British Virgin Island,” in keeping with the I-T division. The division has already filed a number of chargesheets in courts and served notices to many underneath the Black Money Act. Residences of Dainik Bhaskar promoters and the bungalow of its chief finance officer had been amongst these searched, stated sources.
Members of the editorial workforce on the evening shift on the Bhopal HQ workplace — which strikes out by 6am — had been requested to stay inside until 1pm, stated sources. It was the identical in different editorial places of work as effectively. The searches lasted effectively into the night, and will stretch into the evening. There had been 20-25 officers within the DB workplace within the Press Complex in Bhopal round 7.30pm. In Jaipur, I-T groups arrived on the each day’s JLN Marg workplace. CM Ashok Gehlot decried the I-T motion in opposition to the newspaper and referred to as it an try and muzzle the press. He tweeted that the federal government’s incapability to tolerate any criticism signifies BJP’s “fascist mentality.”

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