The Income Tax Department’s raids on Dainik Bhaskar are being dubbed as a move by the Modi government to stifle free press in India. That the said press is corrupt, is involved in hawala and benami transactions, has evaded hundreds of crores in taxes, has enlisted its employees as shareholders and owners of shell companies and much more are all things which nobody will tell you. Why? Because media is a holy cow which must not be touched at any cost. So, what if they are corrupt and are engaged in illegal activities in India? They’re the media. They cannot be touched.
Many still live in this bubble. These are usually people who have not been able to overcome the times of Feroze Gandhi, who used to serve free liquor to journalists back in the day in order to buy their loyalty. What they do not realise is that the sweet old days are a thing of the past, and in the India of 2021, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs, abiding by Indian laws and leading a crime-free life is a prerequisite to leading a peaceful life.
Dainik Bhaskar, as it turns out, has quite a knack for tax evasion. Unpaid taxes of ₹ 700 crore of income over six years, violation of stock market rules, and evidence of profits being siphoned off from listed companies have been found in searches at the Dainik Bhaskar Group, the Income Tax Department said on Saturday. The Dainik Bhaskar Group is involved in various sectors, major among them being media, power, textiles and real estate, with a group turnover of more than ₹ 6000 crore per annum.
In an explosive statement, the Income Tax Department said, “During the search, it was found that they have been operating several companies in the names of their employees, which have been used for booking bogus expenses and routing of funds… Several of the employees, whose names were used as shareholders and directors, have admitted that they were not aware of such companies.” The statement added, “Such companies have been used for multiple purposes namely booking bogus expenses and siphoning off the profits from listed companies, routing of funds so siphoned into their closely held companies to make investments, making of circular transactions etc.”
The IT Department also said “The listed media company does barter deals for advertisement revenues, whereby immovable properties are received in lieu of actual payments. Evidences have been found indicating cash receipts in respect of subsequent sale of such properties. This is under further examination.” Meanwhile, according to source quoted by The Print, the names of the family which owns the DB Group have also surfaced in the Panama papers leaks.
The reality is that the IT Department was acting on solid inputs when it came to action against the Dainik Bhaskar Group. As it turns out, the information received by the department was true, which is why the group which until recently was engaging in moral grandstanding, has now been left embarrassed and exposed for its illegal dealings and machinations.