When the central bureau of investigation (CBI) raided the offices and residences of disgraced telecom minister A. Raja‘s associates in mid-December, ostensibly to get to the bottom of the 2G spectrum allocation scam, Nakkheeran journalist A. Kamaraj found himself smack bang in the middle of a Tehelka story.
The latest issue of the magazine carries a letter from the journalist and a clarification from Tehelka correspondent Jeemon Jacob who reported the story.
Refer to Jeemon Jacob’s ‘Raiders of the Lost Loot’, 25 December.
My colleagues in Nakkheeran and I always held Tehelka in high esteem. We used to feel that there is a kindred spirit elsewhere too to bring out the truth against all odds. Our shared history of fighting for justice, truth and taking on the powers-that-be from the point of view of ordinary citizens should make us natural partners.
However, with enormous sense of hurt, I must point out that the piece carried by your esteemed publication has blatantly false and concocted news, causing irreparable damage to my name and professional standing as a journalist.
My residential flat was raided by the CBI on 15 December and nothing incriminating was found. The investigating officers took away the property document relating to my flat, the loan documents regarding the purchase of the same, my cell phone’s SIM card, passport and bank passbook. A document was issued regarding the items taken away. But Tehelka made the following harmful, totally manufactured claims:
1. My wife Jayasudha is the general manager of Niira Radia’s Chennai office.
2. The CBI had unearthed documents from my family residence in Perambalur relating to various financial dealings, including land transactions.
3. I was interrogated by the police in 1998 in connection with the murder of a police informer, Bhaktavatsalam, by sandalwood smuggler Veerappan.
All these rather damaging false assertions could have been avoided if your reporter had bothered to check the facts. As a scribe, I always made myself available to any journalist in my two-and-a-half decades as a reporter and then as associate editor.
My wife has nothing to do with Radia, and for that matter has never been employed anywhere till date. The CBI did not search my family residence in Perambalur in the first place, let alone unearthing documents relating to any land transactions. And I was never ever interrogated by the police in connection with any aspect of Veerappan’s excesses.
A. Kamaraj, associate editor, Nakkheeran
Jeemon Jacob clarifies
1. My source had informed me that Jayasudha was working with Vaishnavi Communications. I cross-checked the information with two others who confirmed she was indeed working for Niira Radia’s firm. But I don’t have the documents to prove it. I admit I should have sought a response.
2. It is true that though Kamaraj’s Besant Nagar flat was raided, I had erroneously reported that there was a raid also at his Perambalur residence. I stand corrected.
3. In the well-known Bhaktavatsalam murder case, some Nakkheeran staffers were implicated and several employees, including senior editors like Kamaraj, were questioned by the Crime Branch in January 2003 in the course of the investigation.
Photograph: CBI officers at Nakkheeran associate editor A.Kamaraj‘s residence (courtesy Tehelka)