I took baby steps into journalism with feature writing in 2005. After working as a subeditor with DNA and Mid-DAY newspaper till 2009, I ventured into journalism full throttle with beats like crime, police and courts. It was on job and while handling sensitive beats like Central Bureau of Investigation, Enforcement Directorate, National Investigation Agency, Narcotics Control Bureau, Intelligence Bureau that I learnt the finer nuances of reporting. My professional trajectory spans across almost all the leading media houses like IANS, Deccan Herald, Mail Today, New Indian Express and DNA, where I am presently working as Special Correspondent. I am covering federal investigating, intelligence and security agencies. My reportage from these key agencies has shaped national news narrative as many of these scoops have political ramifications, triggering controversies. Reporting on border guarding forces has given me an edge on key issues about security and peace in the Indian sub-continent and China.
Handling the sensitive beats is fascinating and fulfilling but a challenging and dangerous job. However, I was unaware of the magnitude of the danger involved until 2014, when one of my fellow reporters, informed me that I am under the watch list of the Delhi Government of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), led by Chief Minister of the State, Mr Arvind Kejriwal.
AAP traces its origin to 2010 anti-corruption movement led by Gandhian social activists Mr Anna Hazare and his followers, like Mr Kejriwal, Mr Prashant Bhushan, Ms. Kiran Bedi etc. However, Mr Kejriwal along with his faction detached from Mr Hazare’s movement in 2012 when the former decided to join the active politics. Giving the people of Delhi, who were disillusioned by the corruption, lethargic attitude and indecisiveness of the then major political parties Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, a hope of providing transparent governance, AAP won Delhi Assembly elections in 2013 and subsequently in 2014.
The AAP came to power on the promises of providing a responsible and accountable government, ironically did a U-turn. As a result, if any reporter tried to do any story highlighting the negligence on the part of the government, he/she faced harassments at the hand of the state government.
While I was working on the stories regarding the alleged scams of state administration, the bureaucrats warned me to stop investigating about the social issues. Amid such a tensed mind of state, I received the news of being under surveillance of the state and was warned of visiting the Delhi Secretariat. I decided unravel the hidden truth. I kept looking and soon my lady luck smiled at me as I got to know about a newly formed unit of the Delhi Government, called “Feedback Unit”, from Director of Vigilance Department. It was reported that the Head of unit was Chief Minister. While digging out deeper, I found that the unit’s official work profile was to keep a track on the progress of various government projects but it was actually functioning as a Spy Unit of the state government. These spies were allegedly hired by the Chief Minister to snoop on Central government, rival political parties, leaders, journalists and bureaucrats.
When I sought more information from Lieutenant Governor, the administrative head of Delhi, and requested more information, to my surprise, they were clueless about this unit. In the absence of any officials on record statement and evidence, I couldn’t expose this covert operation of the state. So, I set out on a mission to collect tangible evidences and here my reporting of the issue to the Lieutenant Governor’s office proved to be a boon as an internal enquiry was ordered to investigate the issue on my information. After an investigation by the Vigilance Department, the enquiry report was submitted to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and further forwarded to CBI. I got hold of a copy of the report and then exposed the entire episode in a series three stories for consecutively three days in DNA newspaper, where I am working.
As soon as my articles were published, the Unit was closed down and its secret offices were sanitized leaving the state red-faced.