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Sexual assault case: Tarun Tejpal to get copy of CCTV footage

Panaji: A Goa court here on Wednesday allowed rape accused Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal to access CCTV footage, which he has claimed will prove his innocence.

District Judge Anuja Prabhudessai ordered the release of video evidence a day after Tejpal, in a statement, said that police were holding back the CCTV footage of a camera installed in Grand Hyatt hotel's lobby outside the elevator, where the alleged sexual assault took place.

Tarun Tejpal

A court official said the footage which was presented by the police was in the process of being copied and would be handed over to Tejpal's lawyers by Wednesday afternoon.

While police in their charge sheet have claimed that the CCTV footage shows a distraught victim stepping out of the elevator on Nov 7 and Nov 8, Tejpal also claims his best defence is embedded in the tapes.

Tejpal's statement Tuesday evening said: "This entire case hinges on the 130 and 45 seconds (as per the charge sheet) of contested time which can be brought to light via the CCTV footage."

"The Goa Police know their fabricated case will collapse the moment the footage is revealed and compared with the 'testimony' of the alleged victim, on the basis of which the Goa Police filed its FIR (First Information Report) under draconian provisions."

Tejpal said the police had deprived him of the CCTV footage for over three months despite constant requests.

According to police, there was no CCTV camera in the elevator of the five-star hotel.

"In fact, receipt of the footage is what we have been impatiently waiting for since the last three months. This duplicity is in keeping with the sinister and motivated political vendetta that is being pursued," he said.

He also claimed that the crime branch officials have told him that there was no case against him.

Tejpal said: "As it were, I viewed the relevant footage of both days whilst being 'held' in police custody and the footage clearly validates me."

"The fact is most of the officers in the crime branch know there is no case, and have said as much to me. Even so, the IO has been pursuing an agenda spelt out for her by her political masters, totally violating the principle of police neutrality."

Tejpal was Monday charge sheeted under Sections 354, 354-A (sexual harassment), 341 and 342 (wrongful restrain), 376 (rape), 376(2)(f) and 376 (2)(k) (takes advantage of his official position and commits rape in his custody).

His appeal for bail will be heard by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court March 4.

A junior colleague has accused Tejpal of alleged rape during ThinkFest, a high-profile conference organised by Tehelka founder in Goa. The victim has claimed that Tejpal sexually assaulted her twice on Nov 7 and 8.

Journalists criticise Tejpal's defence in rape trial

Panaji: Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal's likening of his rape trial to a secular versus communal battle has been criticised by his journalistic peers on Twitter.

Tejpal, without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Monday said in his statement that the "motivated" trial against him was akin to an attack on "Indian pluralism by communal forces".

He also warned that the alleged political crusade against him was a "a warning shot across the bows of all liberals and opponents of communal politics".

Former senior editor at Caravan magazine Jonathan Shanin termed Tejpal's stance a "disgusting defence".

Surprised over Tejpal's effort to give his case a "political" colour, Sagarika Ghose, a news anchor at CNN-IBN, questioned whether the disgraced editor would get justice in a Congress-ruled state.

Taking a jibe at Tejpal, former journalist and political commentator Swapan Dasgupta tweeted: "Is Tarun Tejpal suggesting that foisting yourself on an unwilling woman is a feature of 'dissent' & the fight against 'fascism'?"

Tejpal's statement, his first formal reaction since his arrest 80 days ago, comes on the heels of two days of hectic activity which saw formal sexual assault charges being slapped against the Tehelka founder-editor and his bail plea postponed by the Bombay High Court until March 4.

Tejpal in his statement said: "This is a warning shot across the bows of all liberals and opponents of communal politics."

"It's a crying shame that a major party that is bidding to rule the great pluralism that is India is imbued with no tolerance of dissenters and critics, of whom I certainly am one."

"I'm afraid what we are witnessing here is an early sign of the inherent fascism of the right wing that will target its detractors in the most sinister and underhand ways, using all the government machinery at its disposal," he said.

Earlier, Tejpal had accused Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for his travails.

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