DIGIPUB, in a statement, has condemned surveys conducted by the Income Tax Department on September 7 at the offices of the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation, the Centre for Policy Research, and Oxfam India.
DIGIPUB News India Foundation, a platform formed by digital media organisations to ensure the creation of a healthy and robust news ecosystem for the digital age, has expressed dismay over the trend of the assault on independent journalism and research that continues with Income Tax ‘surveys’, conducted as part of an inquiry related to alleged contravention of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
On the Income Tax Department’s survey of the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation, a philanthropic initiative to support socially impactful journalism, DIGIPUB expressed its alarm that an organisation which promotes excellence in and funds independent, public-spirited and socially impactful journalism, as well as supports several independent digital media platforms, and whose services are desperately needed in the bleak news media landscape, has had to suffer harassment and intimidation from the Union Government.
Similarly, DIGIPUB referred to the excellent credentials of the public policy think-tank Centre for Policy Research and non-profit organization Oxfam India by stating that their research and reports highlight data that provide valuable insights into vital socio-economic issues.
DIGIPUB claimed that this was not the first time such ‘raids’ (described as ‘surveys’ by the Income Tax Department) have been conducted in recent years, and alleged that without any clarity on allegations or evidence, Income Tax teams are being used to intimidate and harass organisations involved in public service journalism.
Taking a dig at the government’s vindictive attitude against its critics, DIGIPUB pointed out that such surveys are “…a brazen waste of human resources and of the efforts of government officials who have joined the service to add value to India’s administrative mechanism. It is an insult to their abilities to be used as political tools.”
DIGIPUB urged the Income Tax department to clarify why these organisations have been subjected to searches and raids.
Expressing its outrage against the raids, DIGIPUB concluded that any attack on independent journalists is a threat to freedom of the press in our country. Such actions not only diminish the fourth pillar of our democracy, but show how petrified our government is of independent media, it added.