The paper shocked India with its reporting of dead bodies in the river Ganges during the brutal second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic this spring. It criticized authorities for under-reporting Covid-19 deaths and challenged state officials and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over their handling of the crisis.
In its report, the paper added that tax officials also raided the homes of several Dainik Bhaskar employees, and seized the phones of those who were present in its offices.
“The government is doing its job, and we are doing our job,” Om Gaur, the national editor at Dainik Bhaskar told CNN Business. “The truth is always bitter, but we crosscheck all our facts before publishing,”
In May, Gaur had led the paper’s coverage of corpses floating in the Ganges, as the official death toll from Covid-19 began crossing 4,000 a day. However, both Indian and international experts say that these numbers do not show the true picture.
Between 3.4 million and 4.9 million estimated excess deaths were reported in India between January 2020 and June 2021, the US think tank said — compared to the Indian health ministry’s reported death toll of approximately 400,000.
A spokesperson for the Central Board of Direct Taxes did not respond to a request for comment from CNN Business. But several top opposition politicians said that the paper was being punished for publishing critical reports about Modi’s handling of the second wave.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is from a smaller opposition party, said that the raids were a clear signal that Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will not forgive those who challenge it.
— Esha Mitra contributed to this report