The issue of searches on BBC offices in India was raised with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during a bilateral meeting today, according to British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. Cleverly, who is currently in India for the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, raised the issue of the BBC tax searches with Jaishankar, according to sources.
“He was firmly told that all entities operating in India must comply fully with relevant laws and regulations,” according to sources.
Income Tax authorities searched the British broadcaster’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai in February of this year. Cleverly told ANI in an exclusive interview that the BBC is an independent organisation separate from the UK government.
“I didn’t see the documentary but I’ve seen reactions in UK and India. BBC is an independent organisation and separate from government. I enjoy a strong personal relationship with Dr Jaishankar…relationship between UK-India growing stronger by the day,” said Cleverly when asked about the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The BBC released the documentary film “India: The Modi Question” in January of this year, which features the Gujarat riots of 2002. The film sparked outrage for alluding to Modi’s leadership as chief minister during the riots while ignoring the Supreme Court’s clear ruling.
Meanwhile speaking on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the UK, Cleverly said, “We do a lot of business with India and are working extensively. I’ll be meeting India’s trade secretary. We want to make sure this trade agreement really benefits both the countries and unlocks billions of pounds of bilateral trade.”
Cleverly added that the UK is looking forward to concluding the trade agreement in due course. Cleverly praised India’s G20 presidency, saying it is exciting and offers fantastic opportunities.
“This is a great opportunity to talk about sustainable economic agenda and green agenda,” he said.
The G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) is scheduled to take place in New Delhi on March 1-2, 2023, under India’s presidency. India has invited representatives from 40 countries, including non-G20 members, as well as multilateral organisations, to attend.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to speak to the foreign ministers of the G20 member countries about India’s growing global influence.
Foreign ministers will also likely discuss how to deal with slowing economic growth, rising inflation, lower demand for goods and services, and rising food, fuel, and fertiliser prices.