|Based in||Greater Kailash, New Delhi|
Tehelka is an Indian weekly magazine, founded by Tarun Tejpal. Started as a news portal—tehelka.com in 2000, it transitioned through a printed newspaper format until it became a magazine in 2007. Created with the motto, “Free-Fair-Fearless”, Tehelka mixes hard-core investigative journalism with strong perspective pieces on politics and major debates in modern India including the tribal issue, Northeast India and Kashmir conflict.
Best known for a sting operation that revealed rampant bribery in India's defence acquisitions, Tejpal launched Tehelka (which means "sensation" in Hindi/Urdu) on the back of donations and pre-launch subscriptions from readers who supported investigative journalism. Since then the magazine has come out with ground breaking investigative stories including involvement of right wing politicians and activists in the 2002 riots in Gujarat, which killed nearly 1000 Muslims and involvement of Congress leaders in 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, which saw nearly 3,000 Sikhs killed.
In 2012, former BJP President Bhangaru Laxman was sentenced to imprisonment after the court found Tehelka sting was valid and Laxman had taken a bribe.
The magazine, its editors and reporters have received a number of awards including IPI India Journalism Award, Sanskriti Award, Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, Chameli Devi Jain award, among others. In 2007 The Guardian named Tejpal among the 20 who constitute India’s new elite. In 2010, Newsweek named Tehelka’s managing editor Shoma Chaudhury as ‘150 women who shake the world’.
Tehelka was launched from an office in Soami Nagar, in New Delhi after Tejpal left his job as the managing editor of Outlook in March 2000, to start an independent views and news magazine. After nearly being run literally underground, the online magazine received national prominence in 2001 for its series of investigation relating to Operation West End, where it exposed alleged bribes being taken by Ministry of Defence officials regarding the Barak Missile Scandal. The very same year, it was also responsible for exposing the match-fixing ring amidst the Indian Cricket Team.
In the following years, the magazine was heckled by the Government of India led by BJP, adamant on cleaning its tarnished image and to prove that the Tehelka tapes relating to the sting operation was false. The organisation was branded as unpatriotic by right-wing activists, who accused Tejpal and other founding members to be working for Pakistan. It resulted in severe loss of funds as well as losing a great deal of money in constant visits to court in Delhi. The portal that now had to shift to South Extension in lower Delhi. Loyal subscribers and ardent pursuers of investigative journalism, continued to support and fund the magazine which now was running a printed newspaper format too.
Post the Shah-Nanavati Commission’s report on the Godhra train incident and the subsequent Gujarat riots, Tehelka carried out another sting operation in 2007 where it released video footage of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activist where they blatantly admitted their roles in the rioting in Naroda Patiya.
The same year the newspaper format morphed into a full-time weekly magazine with Tehelka also launching their Hindi-news portal called “Tehelka Hindi” in September. The Hindi version of the magazine was also launched the following year.
Tehelka is now operating from its Greater Kailash-II office in New Delhi.
Tehelka in media
The Tehelka exposé has been documented time and again through various media sources. Veteran Indian journalist, Madhu Trehan, has penned an entire book on the expose and its aftermath. The book, Tehelka as Metaphor, is a forensic study of the sting operation and alleges it was retaliation by the Indian government.
Operation Fallen Heroes 
In March 2000, Tehelka carried out a sting operation where former Indian cricketer Manoj Prabhakar participated with the magazine to expose the match-fixing ring in Indian cricket. In the 92-minute footage captured via a hidden camera that was screened to editors and reporters in the Imperial Hotel, Prabhakar was shown interacting with players and officials where details about accepting money from various bookmakers were discussed.
In the resultant fallout, CBI implicated Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Ajay Sharma as the cricketers involved in match-fixing. Sharma and Azharuddin were handed a lifetime ban from professional cricket by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, and Jadeja was banned for five years for their involvement with bookmakers. The CBI also found evidence against Prabhakar in the related investigations, leading to a similar ban for him like Jadeja’s.
Operation West End 
In 2001, Tehelka created another sensation by realising video footage of its first major sting operation, "Operation West End”. "Operation West End" was the brain child of Tehelka's special correspondent Mathew Samuel. The videos showed several defence officials, officers, and politicians from the then-ruling coalition Indian government discussing and accepting bribes. Tehelka had two reporters pose as arms dealers peddling "fourth generation thermal hand held cameras" on behalf of a British company (West End). The president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the mainstay of the government, was shown taking 100,000 Indian rupees (roughly $2,500 in U. S. dollars). He resigned the next day. He was followed a day later by the Minister of Defence who had also appeared on the video-accepting twice as much. Several additional Defence ministry officials and officers were suspended later. 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 government fought back by attacking Tehelka's methods. The Indian Media however lauded the investigation with some calling it as a ‘turning point’ in Indian journalism.
The then Bharatiya Janata Party president, Bangaru Laxman, was also caught on camera allegedly taking bribe from fake arms dealers for facilitating a fictitious defence deal case. Bangaru was caught on camera accepting money in the sting operation conducted by newsportal Tehelka.com. Bangaru Laxman lost the top post in the BJP and was sentenced to prison and bailed out later. 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 .
Naroda Patiya 
In a 2007 expose, the political weekly Tehelka released hidden camera footage of several members of the Bhartiya Janata Party, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal admitting their role in the riots . While the report was criticised by some as being politically motivated, some newspapers said the revelations simply reinforced what was common knowledge .
However, there were several inaccuracies in the statements that cast doubt on the sting operation. Bajrangi and Suresh Richard in the statements said that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited Naroda Patiya one day after the massacre to thank them. However, the official record shows that Narendra Modi did not visit Naroda Patiya. The Gujarat government blocked telecasts of cable news channels broadcasting the expose, which was criticised by the Editors Guild of India. According to Human Rights Watch, in three cases the abdomens of pregnant women had been cut open and the foetus removed and thrown into a fire. One such incident came to light five years after the event: in 2007 Suresh Dedawala (Richard) alias Langado was caught on camera in a Tehelka sting operation , talking to Bajrangi about slitting the belly of a pregnant Muslim woman, Kausar Banu, extricating her foetus, and then killing it with a sword. However, in their report the Special Investigation Team did not find evidence to support this claim, and medical reports did not confirm it as the doctors who conducted the post-mortem on Banu's body had found the foetus inside her womb .
Dayanidhi Maran 
Tehelka’s exposé of DMK leader and Union Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran’s involvement in a Rs 700 crore telecom scam (Hello? Who Will Bell This Cat by Ashish Khetan and Raman Kirpal, 4 June) had created a political storm. It showed how Maran, during his tenure as telecom minister in UPA-1, allotted licences without revising the 2001 rates to Aircel. In a possible quid pro quo, Maxis owner Ananda Krishnan invested Rs 700 crore in Sun Direct TV and Sun Radio, a company owned and run by Maran’s brother Kalanidhi and his wife Kaveri. On 6 July 2011, in the Supreme Court, the CBI had confirmed the findings of Ashish Khetan
and Raman Kirpal’s story “Hello? Who will bell this cat, 04 June 2011”, exposing the role of former telecom minister in the 2G scam. The premier investigating agency informed the apex court that its preliminary inquiry shows that Maran deliberately sat on Aircel’s application for telecom license. He used the opportunity to coerce Aircel founder Shivasankaran into selling his 74 percent stake to Malaysian billionaire T Anand Krishnan’s Maxis Communication. Dayanidhi Maran resigned from the government after being named by CBI.
Dayanidhi Maran issued a legal notice to Tehelka magazine. The notice calls Tehelka's report a blatant concocted lie under the pretext of investigative journalism.
Awards & Recognitions
• IPI India journalism award to Tehelka
• IPI India journalism award to Tehelka, The Week
• The Man Asian Literary Award
• Tarun Tejpal makes final list of French literary award
• Rushdie, Tejpal in race for Britain's Bad Sex award
• Vinoy Mathew, Saji and Jeemon get statesman award
• IPI India journalism award to 'Tehelka'
• Sanskriti Award for Tehelka’s Rana Ayyub
• Tehelka bags IPI Award for 'Excellence in Journalism'
• ‘Dealing with harsh realities, cynicism sets in’
• Tushita Mittal of Tehelka gets Chameli Devi Jain award
• Shoma, Monalisa To Share Chameli Devi Award
• Ramnath Goenka Awards: Karan Thapar, P Sainath adjudged ‘Journalist of the Year’
• Shoma Chaudhury in ’150 most powerful’ list
- "A story of how the suitcase people are compromising Indian defence". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Azharuddin and 4 Others Are Punished for Cricket Match Fixing : Former India Captain Banned". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "The Real Scandal Of Operation West End Was Not The Findings On Tape, But The Reaction Of The Rulers". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Operation West End". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Operation West End: A Case Study in Media Ethics". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Bangaru Laxman convicted of taking bribe". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Tehelka sting: How Bangaru Laxman fell for the trap". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Bangaru Laxman sentenced to 4 years jail in fictitious arms deal case". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "Bangaru Laxman gets bail". Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- "George fernandes and the Rules of the Game". Retrieved 18 April 2013.