Society should stand by those who fight to expose corruption in its midst, says high-profile Indian journalist Aniruddha Bahal, who was in Colombo last week to conduct workshops for media students and professionals. The four-day programme of workshops and seminars on online journalism was held at the Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI).
Bahal said he was speaking from experience, having found himself frequently a lone crusader in his anti-corruption investigations in his native country. He said he is often the subject of debates on the ethics of undercover reportage.
In 2005, Bahal set up a news website called cobrapost.com, which is committed to exposing corruption at all levels of society. In December that year, Bahal and his colleagues caused a sensation when they caught on camera 11 MPs from four of India’s leading political parties in the act of accepting bribes.
The politicos had been trapped into accepting money to put questions to the Indian Parliament on behalf of a fake company invented by the cobrapost.com journalists. The 11 MPs were subsequently expelled from the Indian Parliament, an unprecedented event in the country’s Parliamentary history.
The journalist’s exposés range from match-fixing in cricket to bribery and corruption in India’s defence establishment. But it can be a solitary triumph. “You stand alone in the ugly aftermath of a single investigative story,” Bahal said at one of the seminars.
Bahal said he has had to face a number a lawsuits all by himself for his efforts to expose corrupt practice. He said Sri Lanka’s journalists, like India’s journalists, should not have to be alone in their fight to expose corruption.