“Probe agencies undertake investigations based on credible information and the matter later goes to courts as well,” Javadekar said.

Prakash Javadekar with his arms openPTI photo
news Controversy Wednesday, March 03, 2021 - 17:41

The Income Tax Department raids on actor Taapsee Pannu, director-producer Anurag Kashyap and others on Wednesday have raised some questions as to whether these were motivated by their comments on social media about threat to freedom of expression and farmers’ protests, among other things that could be considered critical of the ruling government. However, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar has dismissed such speculations.

Responding to a question, the minister also rejected allegations that the Income Tax raids on the premises of filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and actor Taapsee Pannu were linked to their comments, which are seen at times critical of the BJP. "This is too much," he said to the question and added that "probe agencies undertake investigations based on credible information and the matter later goes to courts as well."

Apart Anurag Kashyap, the I-T raids had happened on premises linked to filmmaker Vikas Bahl and producer Madhu Mantena and Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhashish Sarkar. Kashyap and Mantena had launched the now-dissolved production house Phantom Films. The action is part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films, which was dissolved in 2018, and its then promoters Kashyap, director-producer Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Vikas Bahl and producer-distributor Madhu Mantena, officials had said.

After the raids, a tweet of Taapsee’s from last month had started doing the rounds again, with people speculating that she and the others were being punished for voicing dissenting opinions. “If one tweet rattles your unity, one joke rattles your faith or one show rattles your religious belief then it’s you who has to work on strengthening your value system not become ‘propaganda teacher’ for others,” the tweet read.

In the same media interaction, Javadekar also hit back at Rahul Gandhi for attacking the RSS in an interview on Tuesday, and saying that the Congress at no point during the Emergency attempted to capture India's institutional framework. Javadekar called Gandhi’s statement “laughable.” In a conversation with Kaushik Basu, professor at the Cornell University in the US and India's former chief economic advisor, Gandhi had termed the Emergency imposed by former prime minister Indira Gandhi a "mistake". However, he added that it was fundamentally different from the current scenario as the Congress at no point attempted to capture the country's institutional framework.

Javadekar said that Rahul’s party had then ended the independence of institutions, denied media freedom and jailed dissenting voices during the Emergency. He added that it will take Gandhi a long time to understand Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindutva organisation and ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP, and asserted that it is the “world's biggest school of patriotism.”

The RSS's role is to effect good changes in people and inspire patriotism in them, he told reporters after he was asked about Gandhi's comparison of the Hindutva organisation with radical Islamists in Pakistan.

Attacking the Congress leader, Javadekar said lakhs of people, including MPs and MLAs, were arrested during that time while institutions were denied any freedom. “Now for him to say that they did not target institutions is laughable,” Javadekar said.

(With PTI inputs)

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