"There is government procedure happening inside the office."
Income tax officials searched the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai in an investigation.
This comes weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary in the UK that criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The raids were denounced by the opposition Congress party, which also claimed that an “undeclared emergency” existed in the nation as a result of Modi’s alleged suppression of press freedom in India.
Asserting that the BBC was spreading “anti-India propaganda”, a spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the raids were legal and that the timing had nothing to do with the authorities.
Gaurav Bhatia, of the BJP, said: “India is a country which allows every organisation as long as you don’t spew venom.”
The BBC’s office in New Delhi, which is located on two floors of a building in the centre of the city’s business district, was cordoned off by police.
An employee of the BBC in New Delhi reported that throughout the raid, officials had been “confiscating all phones” as six officers stood guard outside to prevent individuals from entering or exiting.
An official at the scene declined to disclose their department but said:
“There is government procedure happening inside the office.”
A second BBC employee who works in Mumbai confirmed that the broadcaster’s office there was also being searched.
Mr Bhatia said: “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?”
In a two-part documentary that aired in January 2023, the BBC claimed that Hindu nationalist Modi, who was Gujarat’s leader at the time, instructed police to ignore sectarian tensions in the state.
At least 1,000 people died as a result of the violence, the majority of them being Muslims.
Using emergency powers provided by its information technology laws, the Indian government disabled videos and tweets that contained links to the documentary.
The documentary was denounced by government advisor Kanchan Gupta as “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage”.
Later, in defiance of school restrictions and government efforts to curtail its release, university student organisations organised screenings of the documentary.
Authorities stopped a movie screening at the prestigious Delhi University in late January and made two dozen arrests there.
After Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, India dropped 10 places in the ‘Reporters Without Borders’ ranking of the Global Press Freedom Index, falling to 150 out of 180.