The Income Tax Department conducted searches on Thursday at the Delhi offices of independent think tank Centre for Policy Research and charity organisation Oxfam India; and at Bengaluru-based Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) that partly funds a number of digital media outlets such as The Caravan, The Print and Swarajya.
No response has yet been received from any of the organisations facing action. Nor has the tax department made any statement.
Think tank CPR is known to examine government policy with a critical eye. It was once headed by academician Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a prominent critic of the current BJP government. At present its governing board is chaired by Meenakshi Gopinath, who taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University and was principal of Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi. Formed in 1973, CPR lists "asking the relevant questions" among its goals.
Bengaluru-based trust IPSMF funds some organisations known for investigative stories that question the governments of the day.
The most recent cover story in The Caravan — a magazine and portal backed by the Foundation — questioned a probe report that cleared PM Narendra Modi of any role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. The Supreme Court recently praised and relied on that report to reject pleas to further investigate the then chief minister Modi.
Chairperson of the IPSMF is journalist TS Ninan, while trustees include actor Amol Palekar. Among its donors are the Premji, Godrej and Nilekani business families.
Also facing action is Oxfam India, which is part of a global consortium of NGOs under the Oxfam umbrella. Its website says it "campaigns with the public to demand policy changes from governments for creating a just and inclusive country as envisioned in the Indian Constitution".