I was talking to one of the officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. "What exactly were you looking for at the Indian Express office?" I asked.
"I don't quite know," the officer said, going through an editorial titled Defusing the Guff crisis and care fully circling a spelling mistake. "We were told to keep an eye for Bofors and Fairfax, whoever they are."
"Anything else?" I asked.
"Well, yes they asked us to bring back any paper that has a reference to the Thakkar commission, Nusli Wadia and Ram Jethmalani. They told us, not one paper must be spared," the officer said, looking for references to these names in a report headlined, ‘Two-sets down Becker survives.
"What about the 14 web offset machines form Messrs. Honghua of Taiwan? Did you check their printing speeds to find out whether they were printing 20,000 copies per hour or 35,000 copies?" I asked.
"We were told nothing about any Mr. Honghua from Taiwan, only Mr. Bofors, Mr. Nobel and Mr. Sten Andersson from Sweden, Mr. Hershman from the US, and some Swiss gentlemen who are know by their numbers," the officer said. "Anything else you say is not correct."
"I am not saying anything," I said. "Did you find any of these people?"
"Did we find them! Oh, did we! We found hundreds and thousands of them, files upon files of newspapers with their names. As if the Express had nobody else to write about these last few months," the officer said, carefully pasting in an album Arun Shourie's by lined articles.
"You had not expected to find these?" I asked.
"When we go on a raid, we expect to find nothing. That is how we operate in the Revenue Intelligence Bureau," the officer said. "Our job is to go to the place of the raid and then dig into all the newspapers."
"That fair," I said. "What about the telex, I believe you also read the telex."
"Yes certainly. We have every right to read the telex to know in advance what news they are going to print the next day. As we told Heri Jaisingh, when he tried to stop us in the telex room, the public has a right to know," the officer said, looking for a second like the president of the IENS.
"I am glad you feel that way about it," I said. "One more question did you find what you were looking for?"
"How can I answer that question unless I know what I was looking for!" the officer said