Tax officials in India searched the British Broadcasting Corporation’s offices Tuesday in New Delhi and Mumbai, weeks after the Indian government called a BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi “propaganda.”

The documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” focuses on communal riots that swept through the western state of Gujarat in 2002, killing at least a 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, when Modi was its head.

In a statement on Twitter, the BBC said it was “fully cooperating” with income tax authorities, who are “currently” in the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai.

“We hope to have the situation resolved as quickly as possible,” the BBC said.

Domestic media reports said authorities seized the phones of BBC employees. 

Gaurav Bhatia, a spokesman for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), called the action a “tax survey.”

“If you have been following the law of the country, if you have nothing to hide, why be afraid of an action that is according to the law?” he told reporters.

Accusing the BBC of having a “tainted and black history of working with malice against India,” Bhatia told reporters at a press conference, “It would not be wrong to say that it is the most corrupt and ridiculous corporation in the world.”

He said media outlets that “have a hidden agenda” and “spew venom” cannot be tolerated in the country.

The documentary angered the BJP and Modi’s supporters, who questioned why the broadcaster chose a subject that dates back two decades.  

The documentary highlights an unpublished report the BBC obtained from the British Foreign Office which according to the broadcaster raised issues over Modi’s actions during the riots, and claims he was “directly responsible” for the “climate of impunity” that enabled the violence.

In 2012, an inquiry by India’s Supreme Court exonerated Modi of any complicity in the riots, including charges that he had told police officers not to restrain the rioters.

The BBC documentary was not aired in India, but using emergency powers under its information technology laws, the government blocked videos and tweets sharing links to it. Police scrambled to halt screenings arranged by some student groups on university campuses and detained several students in connection with the screenings.  

India’s Foreign Ministry said the film “lacked objectivity” and called it a “propaganda piece designed to push a particularly discredited narrative.” The BBC had said the documentary was “rigorously researched” and that it had featured a range of opinions, including responses from people in the BBC.

Organizations representing media groups in India expressed concern at Tuesday’s search of the BBC offices.

The Editors Guild of India said the move mirrored similar actions against other news organizations such as NewsClick, Newslaundry and Dainik Bhaskar, whose coverage was perceived to be critical of the government. 

In a statement, the guild said the raids were a “continuation of a trend of using government agencies to intimidate and harass press organizations that are critical of government policies or the ruling establishment” and that the trend “undermines constitutional democracy.”

Opposition parties also criticized the action. 

“First came the BBC documentary, it was banned. Now, I-T has raided BBC.” “Undeclared Emergency,” the opposition Congress Party tweeted.

“As hosts of G-20 what we are telling the world that rather than an emerging great power we are an insecure power,” Manish Tewari, a member of the Congress Party and former information minister, tweeted.

Media watchdogs and critics have raised concerns about press freedom in India. Last month, the Committee to Protect Journalists said that ordering social media platforms to block the BBC documentary constitutes “an attack on the free press that flagrantly contradicts the country’s stated commitment to democratic ideals.”

India’s press freedom ranking fell from 142 in 2021 to 150 last year in the 2022 World Freedom Index by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.