|Tarun Tejpal's 2011 casual sex remark in Goa haunting him. Why is Shoma Choudhury stalling the police inquiry?
||11/22/13 7:07 AM
IANS | Panjim NOVEMBER 22, 2013 | UPDATED 16:20 IST
"So, Tarun Tejpal at ThinkFest did what he said in Goa for the first ThinkFest 'Sleep with whoever you want. This is Goa'. So the fondling and disrobing began," Rodricks said.
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"Now you are in Goa, drink as much as you want, eat...sleep with whoever you think of, but get ready to arrive early at the event as we have a packed house."
This remark made in 2011 by Tarun Tejpal during the inaugural edition of the ThinkFest, the investigative weekly's flagship conference in Goa, could have now come to haunt the Tehelka editor-in-chief, according to Goa's chatteratti.
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. And Goan politicians, celebrities, activists and even Roman Catholic priests are suggesting "bad karma" for it.
"Tarun, Goa remembers you!" said an angry Fr. Bismarck Dias, who in 2011 calibrated a public protest after Tejpal's comments on Goa.
Vishwajeet Rane, a Congress legislator, said he was shocked to read about Tejpal's "misconduct" with a fellow employee.
"More so of the attitude he had displayed when in Goa saying 'You're in Goa, so eat, drink, make merry and sleep with whoever you want'. We can't sit quiet and allow Goa's image to be tarnished as a place where everything is okay," Rane wrote on his Facebook wall.
Ace fashion designer Wendell Rodricks, who is known to passionately argue for local causes, was even more acerbic.
"So, Tarun Tejpal at ThinkFest did what he said in Goa for the first ThinkFest 'Sleep with whoever you want. This is Goa'. So the fondling and disrobing began," Rodricks said.
"And how come one can become police, judge and lawmaker through self-proclaimed 'atonement'," he asked on his Wall.
A group of activists who staged a 'StinkFest' protest outside the ThinkFest venue this year, accusing the organisers of using funding from dubious corporates for the high-profile event, in a statement issued here said: "The shocking news regarding Tejpal's excesses and his decision to let himself off with a 6-month sabbatical says it all."
Tejpal case: Goa CM and DGP accuse Shoma Choudhury of stalling probe
INDIA TODAY ONLINE | Panaji\New Delhi, November 22, 2013 | 18:08
Both the Goa chief minister and the state police chief have accused Tehelka managing editor Shoma Choudhury of stalling investigation into the rape case filed here against the news weekly's editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal.
Shoma Choudhury and Tarun Tejpal
Speaking to a television channel, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said the magazine was indulging in a cover-up.
"Police have informed me they have sent an email to the managing editor yesterday (Thursday) at 5:18 pm. They have confirmation it has been received, asking her to cooperate in a crime which is heinous in nature," Parrikar said, echoing the views of state Director General of Police (DGP) Kishen Kumar, who too said Choudhury was un-cooperative.
"We have written to Shoma Choudhury by way of email. We asked her to give us a copy of the complaint the victim wrote to her," Kishen Kumar said.
The director general of Goa Police also said since the First Information Report (FIR) was filed only a couple of hours back, the police did not get "sufficient time" to extract a formal statement from the victim. Kishen Kumar also conceded the FIR was not itself evidence and the case was still "prima facie".
The DGP said a special team has been constituted to probe the case.
"As I told you, that is a matter of investigation. Let us leave it to the investigating officer," the police chief said, adding he was unwilling to disclose any aspect of investigation to the media.
Tejpal is accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague twice in a Goa hotel elevator during a high-profile conference organised by the weekly newspaper earlier this month.
- with IANS inputs
Tehelka live: Tejpal’s version – apologised as Shoma insisted
6.39 pm: Tejpal says he apologised because Shoma Chaudhry insisted
Tarun Tejpal has reportedly said that he only apologised "out of an attempt to preserve the girl's dignity and on "Shoma's adamantine feminist-principle insistence" that he keep correct form by apologising", according to The Hoot.
More on what Tejpal's version of events is at The Hoot
6.23 pm: MHA seeks more details into Tejpal assault case
Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh has just officially confirmed that the MHA has asked for more details on the Tejpal sexual assault
case, saying that it was an 'extremely serious matter'.
Singh made the comment on his Twitter feed:
The Home Ministry has asked for all details of #Tehelka case from Goa govt. This is an extremely serious matter
Earlier as well, the MHA had asked the Goa police for more information into the incident.
6.00 pm: Feel dirty for participating in Think India, says Park street survivor
5.45 pm: Shoma Chaudhry's conduct is shameful, says Tavleen Singh
Speaking to NDTV, Tavleen Singh has lashed out at Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, saying that her statements made it seem as though it was Tarun Tejpal who was the victim, and not the girl who had been sexually assaulted.
Anti-corrution activist Kiran Bedi added that "Chaudhury had lost it", saying that it would have been better if she had said nothing at all.
5.40 pm: Tejpal is the culprit, says Goa CM Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that one thing was certain in the entire sexual assault case - that Tejpal was the culprit and the young girl was the victim.
Speaking to Times Now, Parrikar refused to comment on the police investigation, saying that it was up to the police to collect evidence to prosecute. He also cautioned media that only an FIR had been filed, adding that this was not the same thing as a chargesheet.
5.15 pm: Delhi police team reach Tarun Tejpal's residence
A team of officers from the Delhi police visited Tarun Tejpal's Delhi residence. The team had left after a few minutes, and had reportedly only said that they had come to deliver some papers to Tejpal.
Another officer said they had come to see that there were untoward incidents outside Tejpal's home.
However Times Now reported that the Goa police had formally asked the Delhi police for help in its investigation into the sexual assault case against the Tehelka editor. It is not yet known if the police visit is related to this request. It is likely that they were checking to see if Tejpal was still in the national capital.
A Goa police is reportedly en route to Delhi, in connection with a suo moto FIR it filed into the incident after perusing CCTV footage. The police have charged Tejpal with rape.
3.41 pm: Tehelka is legally bound to cooperate with police probe, says Goa DGP
The Goa police has constituted a special team to investigate the Tarun Tejpal sexual assault case, according to DGP Kishan Kumar.
Addressing a media conference, Kumar said that they had already written to Shoma Chaudhury, asking her to hand over the correspondence by the victim, adding that the management of Tehelka was legally bound to do so.
He added that he could speak about the arrest of Tejpal, saying that it was for the IO to conduct necessary procedures according to law.
3.10 pm: Don't call Tejpal a rapist, says Shoma Chaudhury
Meanwhile speaking to NDTV, Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury hit out at the fact that Tejpal was being accused of 'rape', saying that basic reporting guidelines dictated that the word 'alleged' should be used in describing the incident.
In particular she referred to BJP leader Arun Jaitley, saying that as an eminent lawyer and former law minister, he should have known better than to take such a strong position in calling the incident rape. She added that now that the case was no longer an institutional affair and was in the public domain, Tejpal had a right to provide his version of the story.
Chaudhury added that it was sad that she was being seen as acting against the victim, when she was actually very proud that she had spoken out. "That said however, in a public discourse my loyalty is to the truth, and my allegiance is to both sides", she said.
She added however that if the girl's statement was proven to be correct, she would call the incident rape or an attempt to rape.
2.50 pm: Goa police team leaves for Delhi to arrest Tejpal
A team of policemen from Goa has left for Delhi to arrest Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal, according to a report by the NDTV news channel.
The news came even as the Goa police confirmed that it has filed an FIR in the case, and Tejpal broke his silence to say that he would fully cooperate with the probe.
The police action to file the FIR and their move to arrest Tejpal despite the lack of a complaint from the victim are done in accordance with more stringent powers granted to them to act against sexual assault under the new anti-rape provisions that were passed by Parliament.
2:40 pm: ABVP holds protest rally outside Tehelka office
A group of ABVP activists are holding a protest outside the Tehelka office.
Their demand? The immediate arrest of Tehelka's former editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal
2:20 pm: Parrikar says he has asked police to deal with case with an iron hand
"I have told the police to act as per the rule of law," Parrikar told Times Now.
Parrikar said that he had asked the police to deal with the matter with an 'iron hand' and said he ensure the police acted on crimes which affected society.
"It is important to crack down on crimes by so called VIPs which shake faith of common people," Parrikar said.
Tehelka cannot say it will not cooperate. The FIR has already been filed, he said.
2:00 pm: Tarun Tejpal issues statement, promises to cooperate
In his first response since the controversy began, Tehelka former editor in chief has issued a statement:
There have been serious allegations cast on me in this last week, and unfortunately as sometimes happens in life, the complete truth and the need to do the honorable thing can come into conflict. In this case this anguish was accentuated by the fact that very many intimate people, professional and personal, were involved.
For four days, as demanded by Shoma Chaudhury, the managing editor, and the recipient of the complaint, I have tried to do what was honorably demanded of me. On Tuesday I issued an apology for the alleged misconduct, as desired by the journalist through Shoma Chaudhury.
On Wednesday I stepped down from the editorship of Tehelka and removed myself from the office premises. On Thursday I learnt of the formation of the complaints committee.
I offer my fullest cooperation to the police and all other authorities, and look to presenting all the facts of this incident to it. I also urge the committee and the police to obtain, examine and release the cctv footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed.
Tarun J Tejpal2:00 pm: DGP says case of rape filed against Tejpal
Speaking to Times Now, Goa DGP Kishan Kumar said that the case against Tarun Tejpal is under sections of law pertaining to rape and outraging the modesty of a woman.
1:58 pm: Will arrest Tejpal if he doesn't co-operate, says DGP
Goa Police DGP Kishan Kumar said that they had filed an FIR against the former editor-in-chief of the magazine and they would arrest Tejpal if he did not co-operate.
The seniormost official in Goa Police said that they would expect Tarun Tejpal to co-operate with the probe but if he didn't they could arrest him.
"We can't tell you further details of investigations," Kumar told CNN-IBN.
1:50 pm: Goa Police files case of attempt to rape against Tejpal
The Goa Police has registered an FIR against Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal, reports CNN-IBN.
The police has registered a case under sections of law for attempting to rape a woman and outraging the modesty of a woman, the channel reported.
The Goa Police had already collected CCTV footage from the hotel in which the incident allegedly took place and had earlier been instructed by the National Commission for Women to file an FIR.
1. 11pm: Won't cooperate with Goa police unless victim files complaint, says Chaudhry
Even as the Goa police has said that it is investigating the CCTV footage from the hotel in which the incident of sexual assault concerning Tehelka managing editor Tarun Tejpal and a young woman journalist is believed to have taken place, Managing editor Shoma Chaudhry has said she will not cooperate with the probe.
Speaking to CNN-IBN earlier, Chaudhry said that there was no reason for her to cooperate with the probe if the victim herself had not made a complaint to the police.
"As a woman, as a feminist, I believe that she get to decide what to do next as this is her body", Chaudhry told the channnel.
Earlier DIG Panaji, OP Mishra said that a preliminary inquiry has begun, and confirmed that they had asked Shoma Chaudhary to give the statements and documents given to her by the victim.
Meanwhile Times Now reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a report from the Goa Home Department on the case.
12.09 pm: Tejpal sexual assault does not concern Tehelka, says Chaudhry
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhry has said that the incident did not impact Tehelka as an institution. He said that he acted as an individual, and after his decision to step down, the institution stood outside of him.
She refused to engage or accept with the premise that the incident was tantamount to an abuse of power on the part of Tejpal, and reacted angrily to suggestions that Tehelka was not holding itself to the same standard that it held everyone else accountable to.
She also claimed that Tehelka was being subjected to a trial by media, likening the situation to 'what had happened to the Talwar's' in the Aarushi case, prompting Rajdeep Sardesai to ask if Tehelka was projecting itself as the victim here.
Chaudhry, insisting that her remarks were being misinterpreted, kept reiterating that the panel would look at both 'versions' of the incident, and come to a conclusion that the organisation would abide by.
She added that it was the prerogative of the woman journalist concerned to decide whether or not to take the complaint of sexual assault further, saying that it was her body and it was her decision to go to the police or not.
11.59 am: Tehelka does not have double standards, insists Chaudhry
Directly confronted about whether or not Tehelka's response to the case of sexual assault was a case of double standards, Managing editor Shoma Chaudhry denied that this was the case.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, she said that in four days she had constituted an internal panel committee, had made Tejpal resign, and apologise.
11.49 am: Tejpal had a different version of events, says Shoma Chaudhry
Noting that she was 'devastated' by the account of a woman journalist who said she had been sexually assaulted by Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal, Managing editor Shoma Chaudhry said Tejpal had a different version of what had happened.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Chaudhry refused to divulge Tejpal's version of events, saying that she had already overridden it. She also denied that Tejpal stepping down was little more than a cover up.
She also defended a decision to constitute an internal probe, and said she had sought to redress the situation as quickly as possible. "I was driven by the sense by that she wanted an institutional response and I was working towards getting that", she said.
She also dismissed that the incident was a 'criminal case', saying that the woman journalist concerned had not filed a police complaint.
11.15 am: Goa police examining CCTV footage
The Goa police has said that it has received the CCTV footage from the hotel, in which the sexual assault of a female journalist by Tarun Tejpal took place and are examining it.
11.00 am: Tarun Tejpal is not running away, says Chaudhry
Tehelka Managing editor Shoma Chaudhry has said that Tarun Tejpal is not 'running away' from the sexual assault charges levelled against him, adding that he would fully cooperate with the internal panel to set up to investigate the incident.
Chaudhry also pleaded for 'more time to do the right thing', adding that ever since the letters had been leaked, she had been working in real time, and had not had a chance to do right by the victim. She also asked that the media wait for the findings of the committee.
She reiterated that her sole focus had been on the victim thus far, which had not let her 'do right' by the institution.
10.56 am: Shoma Chaudhry denies Tehelka 'delayed' action on sexual assault
Tehelka editor Shoma Chaudhry has dismissed allegations that there had been a delay in Tehelka addressing the charge of sexual assault directed at editor Tarun Tejpal, saying that within three days, she had made Tejpal apologise, that he had stepped down, and she had constituted a committee of inquiry.
Speaking to media outside the Tehelka office in New Delhi, Chaudhry added that she had no idea that the young journalist was 'disappointed' with Tehelka's response, saying that she had only heard as much through television channels. She added that the journalist concerned had only asked for an unconditional apology, which she had received. Chaudhry added that when the journalist had seen Tejpal's letter she had 'agreed that he seemed genuinely sorry'.
Chaudhry added that she had overridden Tarun Tejpal's contention that the incident between him and a female journalist had been consensual, and had confronted him angrily the moment she had received the complaint from the concerned female journalist that she had been sexually assaulted.
"Because my sole focus was on her, I sent out the letter to everyone, forgetting that it was the first time that this was going public. I was so focused on her, that I should have realised that it could have been leaked", she added. She also said that she didn't realise that the tone of Tejpal's letter could be construed as being vain, considering that it was a letter he had written to her.
10.00 am: NCW to file FIR with Goa police
The National Commission for Women have written to the Goa police and instructed them to file an FIR in connection with the Tarun Tejpal sexual assault case. The NCW has also expressed its shock at the manner in which the matter has been handled by the Tehelka management.
9:10 am: Goa police seek emails from Tehelka staffer
A report from Mayabhushan Nagvenkar in Goa states that the state police has already procured a copy of the victim's emailed letter to Tehelka's managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, as well as some other key intra-office communications.
As he reports the Congress and BJP are currently sparring over what action will be taken against the Tehelka editor-in-chief.
End of updates for November 21
9.45 pm: Tehelka constitutes sexual harassment complaint panel
The Tehelka administration has finally constituted a sexual harassment complaint panel to probe the charges of sexual assault against its editor in chief Tarun Tejpal.
The panel will be headed by noted women's rights activist Urvashi Butalia as well as other prominent leaders in the field.
Below is the full statement issued by Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury:
In furtherance to Tehelka's acceptance of Tarun Tejpal's recusal from editorship of Tehelka on November 20th, which followed the official unconditional apology he had mailed to the journalist concerned on November 19th, Tehelka has now constituted a formal complaints committee, in accordance to Vishaka guidelines, to be presided over by Urvashi Butalia, eminent feminist and publisher, to investigate the matter. The other members of the committee will be announced shortly.
In addition to this, Tehelka 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.
7.30 pm: Editors Guild condemns incident, says there must be no cover up
Meanwhile, the Editor's Guild of India has condemned the incident and said no attempt must be made to cover up or play down the extremely serious incident.
Following is the full text of the statement:
The allegations of grave sexual assault made by a journalist of Tehelka against the magazine's editor Tarun Tejpal, are on the face of it 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. It is emphatically the philosophy of the Guild that the media that is in the business of holding public persons accountable should itself be held to the highest standards of conduct and decency. 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. It also brings out vulnerability of young women journalists who need to be protected and free to pursue their careers without the fear of being subjected to such assaults.
There ought not to be any attempt to cover up or play down this extremely serious incident. Self-proclaimed atonement and recusal for a period are hardly the remedies for what the allegations show to be outright criminality. The full force of the law must be brought into its investigation and prosecution. Due regard must be paid to the sensitivity and privacy of the victim who has already been put to grievous suffering.
7.23 pm: Vice President Ansari puts Tejpal's withdraws Tejpal's name from Prasar Bharti board
The Vice President of India Hamid Ansari has decided to put on hold former Editor-in-chief of Tehelka Tarun Tejpal's name from the list of recommended journalists to be a part of the Prasar Bharti board.
The committee that recommends names includes the PCI chief Markandey Katju and a member of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry besides Ansari.
6.44 pm: Goa Police procures CCTV footage from hotel
Goa Police have confirmed to Times Now that they are in possession of CCTV footage from the hotel where the incident took place.
The police have also written to the Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury asking for details of the ThinkFest event that concluded earlier this month.
5:05 pm: Have asked if FIR possible, says Goa CM
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that he has sought a preliminary enquiry into the matter and would await the findings of the police.
"High profile cases need high profile action," Parrikar said.
"We will wait for the report, once we get it, we will consider further action... tht is the status as of now," Parrikar told reporters in his office.
He further said that a preliminary inquiry does not require a complaint from the victim, saying if the criminal offence took place in the jurisdiction of Goa then the government is required to investigate irrespective of whether there is a complaint or not.
Parrikar further added that the Goa Commission for Women could take up the case suo moto.
4:45 pm: Tehelka editor says that committee will be formed today, still an internal matter
Managing editor Shoma Chadhury said that she was setting up a committee and it would be completed by the evening.
"I am being driven by what the aggrieved journalist wants, please let me address her concerns first," she said.
"An apology has been given and the editor has resigned. Are these not actions? What more do you want?" the editor said.
Chaudhury has said that the management of the magazine had met all the demands of the aggrieved journalist and if she was upset about it her priority would be to deal with her concerns.
She also said that it was still an internal matter and would have remained one until the emails were leaked to the media.
"It is not a case. The aggrieved party sent me a mail. She wanted action and it has been taken... It is an internal matter," Chaudhury said.
3:30 pm: Network of Women in Media protests incident, seeks action
An organisation representing women in the media has also protested against the incident and has demanded that the magazine assist the victim in initiating criminal proceedings and action under the sexual harassment act.
"At the same time we think it is important for the media to refrain from circulating details that could reveal the survivor's identity and/or are merely titillating and do not serve any public purpose," The Network for Women in India said in its statement.
2.57: Goa Police to summon Tarun Tejpal for questioning
Sources in the Goa Police have told Times Now that they will summon Tarun Tejpal to Goa for questioning as early as this evening or tomorrow.
Earlier today, Goa CM Manohar Parrikar said the government was taking suo moto action in the case and has asked the hotel to hand over CCTV footage of the incident.
2:42 pm: Delhi Union of Journalists condemns incident
The Delhi Union of Journalists has also condemned the incident and said that no journalist found guilty of sexual harassment should be let off.
2:30 pm: Shoma Chaudhary seeks more time to respond
Under fire managing editor of Tehelka Shoma Chaudhury has requested that the media give her more time to act on the complaint and said she would address all the questions on the
- RPN Singh (@SinghRPN) November 22, 2013