Journalist who accused Tarun Tejpal of sexual assault resigns from Tehelka

The Tehelka journalist, who had alleged sexual assault by the magazine editor Tarun Tejpal, has resigned, accusing him and Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhary of a "cover-up" and resorting to "tactics of intimidation, character assassination and slander".  

Tarun Tejpal
Tarun Tejpal

Refuting the charge, Chaudhury said, "How can you cover up giving an unconditional apology for what pretty much makes him (Tejpal) a self-confessed rapist. If people would apply their minds, they would already understand it is a travesty because I have got an unconditional apology from the Editor."

In a stinging letter to Chaudhary, the journalist said, "At a time when I find myself victim to such a crime, I am shattered to find the Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka, and you - in your capacity as Managing Editor - resorting to precisely these tactics of intimidation, character assassination and slander."

"Given the sequence of events since the November 7, it is not just Mr Tejpal who has failed me as an employer - but Tehelka that has failed women, employees, journalists and feminists collectively. Please consider my resignation effective immediately," the journalist wrote.

The girl cited lack of support offered by the organisation because of which she is deeply traumatised and said "in such circumstances it is untenable for me to continue to work for this organisation."

The young journalist also charged Tejpal and Chaudhary of covering up the act of sexual molestation by terming it as "an untoward incident" in the name of "protecting the institution".

"In the public acknowledgement sent to the bureau, Mr Tejpal and you referred to his act of sexual violation as "an untoward incident" - this was not an attempt to 'protect the institution' but in fact, an attempt to cover up what had really occurred - the act of sexual molestation, an admission of the facts that Mr Tejpal had "attempted sexual liaison" with me (to quote his email) on two occasions despite my "reluctance to receive such attention," said the woman journalist.

The victim also attacked Chaudhary for her attempt to establish that she was satisfied with Tehelka's actions. She also accused Chaudhary of "attempting to establish Tejpal has another version of the event and that the "encounter" may have been "consensual or non-consensual."

Mr Tejpal is now claiming that what occurred was a "fleeting, consensual encounter"; and that he wrote his apologies to me because of your "adamantine feminist principles," she said.

Tejpal today moved the Delhi High Court seeking anticipatory bail. The Goa police had on November 22 lodged an FIR against Tejpal under sections 376 (rape), 376 (2)(k) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty) of IPC in connection with the incident.

The woman journalist had on Saturday issued a statement suggesting she and her family were being subjected to pressure and intimidation at an "intensely traumatic" time to "protect" Tejpal.

Chaudhury said the journalist wanted just an apology which was given to her. "I have been repeatedly asked why I didn't go to the cops. I didn't go to the cops on feminist principles because the complainant didn't want to go to the cops. She can say what she wants. Now, the correspondence between us will show this is a lie and I am really sad that after everything that has been done, it has come to a time where she and I stand opposite to each other." 

She said a detailed response will be put out to her resignation letter "which will make everybody understand this is a lie."

Disappointed over Tehelka management's handling of the case, consulting editor Jay Mazoomdaar and Revati Laul, an assistant editor, have also have put in their papers. There are reports that Tehelka's Literary Editor Shougat Dasgupta also stepped down and more people are likely to resign in the next few days.

Tejpal has been charged with rape by the Goa police. A three-member Goa police team in the last two days had quizzed Chaudhury and three employees who were contacted by the victim to corroborate her version.

The woman journalist had mentioned the names of her three colleagues, with whom she had interacted soon after the alleged assault happened at a Goa hotel lift around a fortnight ago, in her complaint and said Chaudhury could corroborate the incident from them.

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