Aaniruddha Bahal is the founder and editor-in-chief of Cobrapost.com, an Indian news and views website and television production house. Previously, he worked for India Today, Down to Earth, Financial Express & Outlook, among other publications. He also co-founded Tehelka.com. Bahal’s last novel, Bunker 13 was published in 2003 to international acclaim. More recently, he hostedthe Tony B. Show on Channel V. he can be contacted at
N D Tiwari’s resignation as the Andhra Pradesh Governor after a sting operation reportedly showed him in a compromising position with three women has brought this controversial tool of investigation back in focus. Beginning with the match-fixing expose at the start of the decade, sting operations are now here to stay. A look at some of the major sting operations in the last few years:
Operation Fallen Heroes I Tehelka
The Sting: Tehelka’s modus operandi was to send Manoj Prabhakar to meet players and officials with a hidden camera and get them to divulge details about match-fixing in Indian cricket.
The fallout: CBI named Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Ajay Sharma and Manoj Prabhakar as the cricketers involved in match-fixing. While Sharma and Azharuddin were handed a lifetime ban from professional cricket by the BCCI, Jadeja and Prabhakar were banned for five years for their involvement with bookmakers.
Operation West End I Tehelka
The Sting: In tapes that were telecast on national news channels, several members of the Indian government, including the then ruling BJP’s president, Bangaru Laxman, were caught accepting bribes to approve defence contracts. Samata Party member Jaya Jaitley was also shown talking about accepting bribes of Rs 1 crore or more from arms dealer and former Naval officer Lt Cmdr Suresh Nanda, son of ex-Chief of Naval Staff Admiral S M Nanda.
The fallout: Bangaru Laxman lost the top post in the BJP. Then defence minister George Fernandes was forced to resign but was reinstated later. In 2004, almost four years after the sting, the CBI registered cases against Jaitley, Bangaru Laxman and others in the Army and the Ministry of Defence.
The sting: The then union minister of state for environment, Dilip Singh Judeo, was caught on tape accepting bribe ostensibly for help in getting mining contracts in Chhattisgarh. The Indian Express had printed transcripts of the tapes.
The fallout: Two years later, the CBI filed a chargesheet against Judeo and five others. While Judeo and his aide Natwar Rateria were booked for allegedly accepting bribes (Rs 9 lakh), four others, Bhupendra Singh Patel (who appeared in the tapes as Rahul), Amit Jogi (former Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi’s son), Arvind Vijaymohan and Rajat Prasad were named in the chargesheet as bribe-givers.
Sanjay Joshi sex CD
The sting: A VCD of an in-house sting operation carried out by BJP general secretary Sanjay Joshi’s detractors showed the latter in a compromising position with a woman.
The fallout: Joshi quit his party post after the scandal broke. He was later given a clean chit by the MP police investigating the scandal.
Operation Duryodhana (Cash for questions) Cobrapost.com and Aaj Tak
The sting: Eleven MPs, 10 from the Lok Sabha and one from the Rajya Sabha, were caught accepting bribes ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 1.10 lakh to table questions in Parliament. The MPs were: BJP’s Anna Saheb M K Patil, Y G Mahajan, Suresh Chandel, Pradeep Gandhi, Chandra Pratap Singh, Dr Chhatrapal Singh Lodha; BSP’s Narendra Kumar Kushwaha, Raja Ram Pal, Lal Chandra Kol; RJD’s Manoj Kumar and Congress’s Ramsevak Singh.
The fallout: For the first time, the membership of the 11 MPs was terminated by voice vote, 11 days after the cash-for-questions scam hit the headlines.
Operation Chakravyuh Star News
The sting: Seven MPs — Lok Sabha members Alemao Churchill (Congress); Faggan Singh Kulaste, Ramswaroop Koli and Chandra Pratap Singh (all BJP); and Parasnath Yadav (SP); and Rajya Sabha MPs Sakshi Maharaj (Rashtriya Kranti Dal) and Isham Singh (BSP) were caught demanding commissions for contracts under the MPLAD Scheme.
The fallout: The Lok Sabha unanimously accepted the V K C Deo Committee report recommending the suspension of four members from the House from December till March.
BMW expose case I NDTV
The sting: The news channel telecast a sting operation showing defence counsel R K Anand and the then special public prosecutor, I U Khan, colluding to influence witness Sunil Kulkarni during the trial of the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case.
The fallout: The Supreme Court held Anand guilty of contempt of court for trying to influence Kulkarni. The Court also sought to know why he should not be debarred from practice for a longer period and possibly given a jail term. However, Khan was exonerated from the charge of contempt of court, with an observation that his conduct as a special public prosecutor in the case was “inappropriate”.
The sting that wasn’t I Live India TV
The sting: A Delhi school teacher, Uma Khurana, was shown to be involved in a prostitution racket. The reporter, Prakash Singh, acting as a customer, fixed up a meeting with Khurana, and the footage aired showed Khurana asking for Rs 4,000 for a girl’s “services”. The sting claimed a 15-year-old girl, who was Khurana’s former student, was made available to the reporter. But it later turned out that the girl in question was, in fact, a reporter, and had acted at the behest of Prakash Singh.
The fallout: Khurana, who was attacked by a mob and even had to spend 10 days in jail, lost her job. But the HC later cleared her of the charges and ordered her reinstatement.
Operation Kalank I Tehelka, Aaj Tak
The sting: A sting operation backed by Tehelka magazine claimed to have exposed the involvement of VHP leaders in the post-Godhra riots of 2002 with Chief Minister Narendra Modi “giving them a free hand for three days” to attack minorities in the state. The operation, telecast by Headlines Today and Aaj Tak, showed on record VHP leaders like Baba Bajrangi, Anil Patel, Dhawel Patel and Harish Bhatt, the BJP MLA from Godhra, saying how they killed Muslims, made bombs and had the “most helpful Gujarat police” facilitating their task. The Gujarat VHP leaders were shown saying that apart from Modi, it was VHP national general secretary Praveen Togadia who guided them in their operation.
The fallout: No action.
The sting: SP MP Reoti Raman Singh was caught trying to persuade three BJP MPs — Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Mahavir Bhagora — to accompany him to an undisclosed destination for “negotiations” in an alleged attempt to buy their votes on the eve of the UPA government’s vote of confidence on July 22, 2008. The tapes showed wads of currency notes being handed over to the BJP MPs by a person claiming to represent a senior SP leader.
The fallout: The Kishore Chandra Deo Committee set up to probe the alleged attempt to bribe MPs held: “‘The committee is constrained to observe that the matter on record does not conclusively prove that the money contained in the bag which was eventually displayed in the House, was actually sent by Amar Singh for the purpose of winning over these MPs.” The committee, however, recommended a probe by an ‘appropriate agency’ into the role of Sanjeev Saxena, said to be an aide of Amar Singh, Sohail Hindustani, a former BJP Yuva Morcha activist and Sudheendra Kulkarni, an aide of BJP leader L K Advani.
Don’t your guests stage walkouts during the interview?
Many have the walk out because I the no-nonsense man who create the panic and make the truths long jumping in the open like the Bolt from Jamaica.
What do you do when you are not Tony B?
There not be time when I not Tony B. In the forest, mountain, plain and desert and the igloo, I always the Tony B. I one with the universe.
How did Channel V discover you?
That is the Knight Templar secret. But my talent bursting and they notice the very fasting.
Are you coming with more shows?
The Ying and Yang leading me to many experiments with the light and spectograph and the voltage of the electronics.
Is your absurd sense of humour your forte?
Humour is not the fort. If the truth in the joking then the peoples laughing and spreading all over out from the Naini fort on the river.
How do you keep a poker face?
For the proper questioning straight facing very good. It make the celebrity very nervousing and he make the blunder which bring the truthing.
Have you interviewed politicians?
I interview some about the rape and the terrorist and the uniform civil code and the 123.
Who created your absurd look?
My looking genuine. It come straight from the backsiding of buffalo from the Allahabad.
Didn’t anybody recognise you as Aniruddha Bahal?
Who is this nonsense fellow? I don’t know this fool. I the Tony B.