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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Indian website faces crackdown
Staff working at Tehelka.com
Tehelka.com became famous for uncovering scandals
India's top investigative agency has searched the offices of an Indian website at the centre of an arms bribery scandal.


I don't know why they are raiding my office but one should appreciate the timing

Tarun Tejpal,
Tehelka editor
Officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) carried out raids on the offices of Tehelka.com, allegedly in connection with a poaching case.

The editor-in-chief of the news portal, Tarun Tejpal, told the BBC that the raid was carried out without any independent witnesses.

He said CBI officers had gone through his personal and professional papers, hours before he was due to appear before a commission enquiring into the arms scandal.

Tehelka.com caused a sensation last year when it released secretly recorded videotapes showing army officers and politicians accepting bribes from journalists posing as arms dealers.

Investigation

Mr Tejpal said the company had been "harassed" by "several government agencies" ever since news of the arms scam broke.

Tarun Tejpal
Tehelka chief Tejpal: Timing suspicious

The scandal led to the resignations of the Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes and the president of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party and the website was ordered to hand over the tapes to the inquiry commission.

The hours of tapes also filmed senior officers demanding sexual favours from prostitutes.

"I don't know why they are raiding my office but one should appreciate the timing because I was to appear before Venkataswami Commission," the Press Trust of India quoted Mr Tejpal as saying.

A CBI spokesman told the BBC the case was registered after two poachers alleged that a Tehelka employee asked them to kill leopards in Sharanpur in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh earlier this year.

The spokesman said a video camera which had been used to film the poaching of leopards was recovered from Tehelka's offices, along with several guns.

'Incriminating'

But a senior Tehelka journalist said materials in the office related to a story about poaching that had been commissioned by the news portal.

The CBI spokesman said searches were also carried out at the residence and office of Kumar Badal, the Tehelka employee alleged to have ordered the poaching.

The spokesman said a number of incriminating documents had been seized.

See also:

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