The searches by the Income Tax department at BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai is unlikely to have any implications on trade and economic relations between India and the UK as the broadcaster is operationally independent of the government, officials tracking the matter have said.

“The British government has said that BBC is autonomous. So, we do not think the tax searches in BBC office in India will be regarded as action against the UK government. Trade and other relations with the UK is unlikely to get affected,” the official said.

Moreover, the British PM Rishi Sunak had distanced himself from the BBC documentary series on the Gujarat riots titled India: The Modi Question, saying he did not agree with the characterisation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in it, the official added.

The two-part BBC series criticised Modi, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 during the riots, for his handling of the violence.

Trade flow

The India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations are on track and the seventh round of negotiations started this month, the official pointed out. The next round is scheduled on March 20-24.

“Bilateral trade has its own flow. It takes a lot to disrupt trade between two countries,” the official said.

India and the UK launched the FTA negotiations in January 2022 and set a target of doubling bilateral trade to $100 billion by 2030.