Police lodges FIR against Indian magazine editor for sexual assault on woman journalist

Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal. File Pic
Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal. File Pic

Police in Indian beach State of Goa have registered an FIR against Tehelka news magazine founder-editor Tarun Tejpal for allegedly sexually assaulting her woman colleague journalist earlier this month.

New Delhi, Nov 22/Nationalturk – Police in Indian beach State of Goa have registered an FIR against Tehelka news magazine founder-editor Tarun Tejpal after his woman colleague journalist accused him of sexual assault at an event earlier this month.

A woman journalist associated with Indian news magazine, The Tehelka  in an email complaint to magazine Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by magazine’s founder editor Tarun Tejpal during an event in Indian beach State of Goa early this month.

Tejpal has been accused of sexually attacking a junior colleague twice in an elevator of the Grand Hyatt, a five-star resort a short distance from Panaji city.

The email sent to Chaudhary went viral and people from all sections of society condemned the incident and demanded lodging of FIR and severe punishment to Tejpal, who has offered to recuse himself from the editor’s post and the office for six months.

I take the blame for lapse of judgement: Tejpal

“The last few days have been most testing, and I squarely take the blame for this. A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for. I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further,” Tejpal said in a letter to managing editor of magazine Shoma Chaudhary.

He said because it involves Tehelka, and a sterling shared legacy, he feels atonement cannot be just words. “I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months”.

Police registers case against Tehelka editor

Goa Director General of Police Kishan Kumar told media persons today that since the girl had not come forward to lodge a complaint, police took suo moto action in the case.

“We have registered a case and crime branch is investigating the case. Teams have been sent to Delhi for investigation and to interrogate Tarun Tejpal. If he will not cooperate we will arrest him,” he said.

Media reports said Indian Home Ministry has sought a detailed report from the Goa government about the incident.

Meanwhile, Chaudhury rubbished rumours today that Tarun Tejpal has fled the country.

“The woman journalist had asked for an apology from Tejpal, which was given to her. Tarun has even stepped down for six months.  A committee has been formed in accordance to Vishakha guidelines to inquire into the allegations and Tejpal would certainly reply to the queries of the body,” she said.

Asked whether she was defending her editor, Chaudhury said, “I am not here to judge or defend anyone, both versions of Tarun’s and the girl will be before the committee, which would decide on the matter””.

“It has been three days and Tarun has apologised and stepped down. I myself have formed a committee to look into the matter, then where is the delay,” she said.

Chaudhury defended steps taken by the magazine against Tejpal in the case saying she had overruled Tarun’s version of the incidents, confronted him angrily and forced him to issue an unconditional apology.

‘Let’s not conclude it is a sexual assault or rape’

“I do feel a sense of outrage and betrayal. Tarun Tejpal had a different version of the event after I got this email. I extremely angrily confronted him after speaking to the girl. I got to know of the incident on Monday. The girl had marked three other journalists on it and I confronted Tejpal even without checking with the others. You cannot say it is a criminal case because the girl has not gone to the police. Let’s not conclude it is a sexual assault or rape,”she said.

Asked why the magazine has not file a police complaint, she said the girl wanted an institutional response and filing a police case is her prerogative. “The complaint is three days old, she wanted an institutional response. If it goes into a legal domain then it asks for an investigation.”

Earlier, the Tehelka magazine managing editor issued a statement saying that magazine will ensure setting up a formal complaints committee, according to section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal Act, 2013), an institutional mechanism that was sorely missing in Tehelka.

‘Shocking, shameful’

The Editors’ Guild of India (EGI) has termed the sexual assault on a woman colleague by Tehelka editor as shocking and shameful.

“Such incidents anywhere are condemnable in the strongest terms but the Guild is particularly saddened that they should engulf a media organisation. The conduct that has been alleged would constitute grave sexual assault at the very least taking advantage of the authority and power of the perpetrator within the media organisation,” a spokesman of EGI said.

He said it was “horrified” to hear of the incident. “This is a slur on the name of Indian journalism which has many shortcomings but making the workplace unsafe for women was not supposed to be one of them.”

Many journalists have expressed outrage at the tone of Tarun Tejpal’s “atonement” email. Some alleged that he had been let off so easily and was going on a “six-month holiday.”

Legal experts point out that in this case, new laws introduced in December to tackle sexual crimes could apply, and that Tejpal could face charges of rape.

The stricter laws were cleared by parliament after the fatal gang-rape of a Delhi student on a moving bus in December last year.

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Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk India News


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