Democratic thinking

Articles on democracy in the independent online media

January 15, 2006

TV sting operations in India

It is a measure of the growing perversion of public taste that people actually seem to want more and more sting operations to be aired on TV. During the last week at least a dozen ordinary people have asked me when the Amar Singh tapes would be finally broadcast, which channel is most likely to do so, and if I have any idea about their contents. The thrust of the queries does not relate to the alleged political or business conversations that the Samajwadi leader has apparently had on the phone with a number of people. Public interest is focused only on what 10 Janpath acolyte Ambika Soni distastefully calls "Operation Laila". TV channels have whetted people's libidinous appetite to such an extent that I perceive a sense of frustration that saucy stuff has not been telecast for a few weeks now. Instead of a sense of outrage at the unauthorized tapping of a politician's phone people appear eager for some titillation.

I have commented earlier on the undesirability of airing sting operations without due authorisation or establishing their relevance to the public interest. Now a new dimension has been added on account of the wanton tapping of telephones. The argument that every Government does it is entirely unacceptable. A multitude of wrongs do not make a right. Telephone tapping is permitted under strict rules. Only in situations that involve national security, crime or drug-related matters can tapping be authorised by persons empowered to do so. Fixing political opponents does not rank among the list of situations that permit telephone tapping. Sadly, everybody has become so brazen about it that the impact such disclosures used to have in the past - in the Moily tapes scandal for instance - does not happen any more.

Let us look at the sequence of events. Amar Singh is informed by a Reliance Infocomm employee about the regular tapping of his phone. He complains to the police. An FIR is lodged and a few token arrests are made. No less a person that Delhi's Police Commissioner admits that influential people are behind the operation. Incidentally, the Commissioner, Dr KK Paul, had once caused a sensation in the match-fixing scandal by trapping South African cricketers including their former captain, Hansie Cronje, now deceased, through this very method. One faceless tapper, Bhupender, is arrested. This is followed by the arrest of one Dr Anurag. What is his background? Apparently, the man who qualified to be a medical practitioner later emerged as one of India's finest internet hackers. According to sources, the investigating agencies often relied on his hacking skills to crack crime syndicates. What does that suggest? Clearly, Dr Anurag was no stranger to the security agencies.

More here.


Post a Comment

<< Home