Mainstream

Home > 2021 > Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Sept 18, 2021

Mainstream, VOL LIX No 40, New Delhi, Sept 18, 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Sept 18, 2021

Friday 17 September 2021

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, September 18, 2021

The disturbing trend under the Modi government of using investigating agencies under the central government to go after critics or people out of favour with the government continues. Many observers, human rights groups and even the UN experts have been pointing this out. Recent developments confirm the trend where the Government seems to regularly send in the taxman to unsettle and harass critics —and all at the same time denying any wrongdoing, claiming that these are independent investigations.

On September 15, 2021, Income Tax investigators launched search operations in the office and home in Mumbai of the actor Sonu Sood for alleged tax evasion. The actor made quite a name for himself during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to his philanthropic support to a large number of the poor migrant workers helping them return to their homes during the national lockdown. He was recently appointed the brand ambassador to a School Education programme of the Delhi state’s AAP run Government.

On September 16, 2021, officers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which keeps a tab on economic offences raided offices of the Centre of Equity Studies a highly acclaimed NGO based in Delhi and led by Harsh Mander. Mander is a retired former state official, an NGO activist and a public intellectual. The raids were also conducted at his residence. A children’s shelter home Ummeed Aman Ghar in Delhi —with whom Harsh Mander is also associated, was also raided.

On September 10, 2021, teams of Income Tax officials conducted long drawn investigations at the offices of the two media organisations —Newslaundry and NewsClick. These investigations described as ‘surveys’ had an intimidatory air, where personal and professional data from mobile phones and computers was taken going beyond permissible limits on how surveys are defined under the Income Tax Act. In February 2021, the home of the founder of Newsclick had been raided.

On September 7, 2021 the journalist Rana Ayub known for her articles critical of the BJP government, saw the Uttar Pradesh Police register a criminal complaint against her for alleged misappropriation of money she had raised from crowdfunding campaigns for slum-dwellers and for relief for COVID-10 affected people.

In July 2021 the income tax department conducted raids against Dainik Bhaskar and the news channel Bharat Samachar on charges of tax evasion. Both Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar had done reportage on the distress of citizens during the second wave of the pandemic and Covid-19 mismanagement and underreporting of deaths.

We are in no way suggesting that people involved in wrongdoing should not be investigated. But the above cases suggest a cabal to tar the critics, as if. The investigation agencies are alas not truly independent and we hope some officials with spine will blow the whistle against their politically motivated misuse.

Tributes:

Former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha member Oscar Fernandes passed away on September 13, 2021.

Comrade Gautam Das, Central Committee Member and Secretary of Tripura State Committee of Communist Party of India (Marxist) passed away on September 16, 2021.

Thanu Padmanabhan, the renowned physicist and professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune, passed away on Sept 17, 2021

We pay our tributes to the above figures

September 18, 2021 – HK

Notice: The print edition of Mainstream Weekly is now discontinued & only an online edition is appearing. No subscriptions are being accepted