A story of how the suitcase people are compromising Indian defence
Tehelka blows the cover off the unholy nexus of politicians, senior defence personnel
and ubiquitous fixers who infiltrate and infest every defence deal. Floating a fictitious company
non-existent thermal imaging binoculars,
the Tehelka Investigative Team encountered and cracked the closely
guarded bastion of manufacturers, agents and their military and political patrons running up to the
highest offices in the land. This is the story of how we went about demolishing the last illusion of the
Indian democratic state. It is a tale replete with appalling avarice, backstabbing, bribery and inducement.
Shockingly, no one the investigation touched emerged untainted.

Investigated & written by


Yossarian sidled up drunkenly to Colonel Korn at the officers' club one night
to kid with him about the new Lepage gun that the Germans had moved in.
"What Lepage gun?" Colonel Korn inquired with curiosity.
"The new three-hundred-and-forty-millimeter Lepage glue gun,"
Yossarian answered.
"It glues a whole formation of planes together in mid-air."

Catch 22, Joseph Heller

We at Tehelka.com managed to sell the Lepage 90, the ALION and the Krueger 3000 to the Indian defence establishment - ostensibly fourth generation hand-held thermal cameras and, needless to add, non-existent.

This is the story of how we did it.


  • It all started with Senior Section Officer P. Sashi, in the Ministry of Defence, wanting to make some money from arms dealers. We at Tehelka.com floated a fictitious arms manufacturing company, based in London, called West End International. We were in search of a product whose indent existed in the Indian Army. We also wanted to get an entry into the lowest end of the defence chain
    and work our way upwards through the Indian scenario of graft. Here Sashi,
    affter getting a monetary incentive, takes us to Brigadier Anil Sehgal's house in New Delhi. Sehgal is the deputy director in DGOS, a crucial army procurement post. Brigadier Sehgal and P. Sashi give us the two things
    that we need - a defence product and an entry into the gravy train.

    P. SASHI (to Sehgal): Today we got that Malaysian binoculars. QA manual. Quality Assurance…call it as manual type. I think you might not have seen. Today there…there is a bunch of…one book, booklet is there. Sponsored by Malaysia….
    BRIG. ANIL SEHGAL: I know. I've seen that.

    SASHI: Haan.
    BRIG. SEHGAL: …in which ADC has written that this should be handed over to W.E.
    SASHI: Haan, W.E. Of course.
    TEHELKA: Sir, you have to tell us what are the things which, what we should do…because…this is a field…
    BRIG. SEHGAL: This is a very vast field. It's a very, very vast field.

    TEHELKA: We are the people who have absolutely no…

    [Sashi comes and sits next to Sehgal.]

    BRIG. SEHGAL: Okay.

    BRIG. SEHGAL (continuing where he left off): There is an annual requirement…what I foresee…at present, of present equipment of…about 10,000 II tubes per year. And in the next four to five years I have not yet calculated.

    *  *  *

    TEHELKA: Huge purchases. And those people who are geared…
    BRIG. SEHGAL: …good period. I stay in the background…. What I am telling you, don't discuss it with anyone. It's just between…not meant for your ears also, but then…

    SASHI: That way you can put in a peg and prepare it.
    BRIG. SEHGAL: If you can find someone to manufacture the ammunition. That 's also in a big way.

    TEHELKA: Where do you want me to go…from Russia, Israel? I have got base in New York, I have got a base in Canada, Argentina, Chile I have got.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: See, now these II tubes…
    TEHELKA: France. They'll be coming to you.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: France they've been happily...I'll be very frank. You have to break this…this thing…of BE-Delft. BE-Delft is a PSU, which was…India invested. As of late, there has been a certain policy that nothing would be imported. There are many people who are really interested in that. So you have to get the nexus broken up at the top. And this BE-Delft thing…

    TEHELKA: If I become their authorized…
    BRIG. SEHGAL: But BE-Delft is not taking anyone else.
    TEHELKA: Okay.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: BE-Delft is Bharat Electrical (sic) Delft. Delft is Holland.
    TEHELKA: Holland. Okay.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: Holland has branched out from itself after the sanctions. US sanctions. What you have to do is get little open...because they have been talking big. Yeah, we can do this much. But he [referring to SASHI] is aware of it, how much less. They have been taking us, taking us for a ride. And somehow the bureaucracy also. And things have been badly manipulated in the Ministry. I'll be very frank with this. Things have been manipulated in the Ministry that…delay things deliberately, to suit them.

    [Drinks arrive. They toast each other]

    *  *  *

    BRIG. SEHGAL: He doesn't have…there are so many other things also which are coming in this. Like you have spares. I can give you which spares' indent was made. I can give you the last procurement price. Generally what happens, what the scene is. They are not aware till the last minute what rate it was taken at. That I can calculate and you will also do. Everyone has been coming up with an offer. But I said, "Look, first give me 10 lakhs, then we will talk."
    TEHELKA: If they are not ready to place the information then the question of talking further does not arise. Who wants to discuss the future? Sir, in this I, my people are very clear. They have straight away said that "You go ahead and you be a part of the venture." It's not as if I am separate…would need a guide.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: I can help in so many things. I will tell you where to go, whom to meet.
    TEHELKA: Everything…meaning…you tell me everything.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: But then, see, I can show you the way.
    TEHELKA: Bilkul.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: But you'll have to move on your own.
    TEHELKA: Yes, yes, sir. Once you show us the way, we'll automatically follow it.

    *  *  *

    Soon enough comes a demand to be entertained in a five-star hotel.
    Brigadier Sehgal comes there with a Lt. Colonel Sharma, who is an
    officer posted in the Air Force procurement section. Here,
    they are entertained and disclose how to proceed.

    TEHELKA: Sir, I want to ask…another one thing. One Mr. B. S. Yadav sitting in the Air Headquarters. It's a foreign cell. Sales he is dealing, I think in that.
    LT. COL. SHARMA: They have got their own procurement. They are basically dealing with Russians directly.
    BRIG. SEHGAL: Because those kind of PNCs [Price Negotiation Committee] and negotiations are done at the ministry level. We don't involve ministry in our world. We do it directly.

    BRIG. SEHGAL: This behan chod, they've done a very smart thing. He has kept everything with him.
    LT. COL. SHARMA: Fuck it, no CDA, nobody. We issue the tender, call the bloody parties, do the PNC, give the supply order. Screw you.

    TEHELKA: Sir, this thing you have said, this we can…in this whatever you say, we can get everything done. We will…
    LT. COL. SHARMA: No, but I told you. We are basically dealing with proprietory items. You have a tie-up with those people.

    TEHELKA: We will get the tie-up done. With whoever you want, we will get a tie-knot, we'll get anything done.
    LT. COL. SHARMA: All right.

    TEHELKA: You tell us, you will only have to tell us who we should tie with and who we should knot up with, who we should tie the 'naada' with. We will do everything. And whatever you ask, from a pin to anything you wish…
    LT. COL. SHARMA: Thursday…on Thursday come to Room No. 221 at Vayu Bhawan.

    *  *  *

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