The season is supposed to be dominated by the expose by the media on the politicians. Which they did, but the biggest shock came from a very unlikely source. The one who is a synonym for sensational news stories, Tehelka is in the news for wrong reasons. I consider Tehelka as above the normal mainstream news media, as they report issues which are ignored by the mainstream.
I am writing this, not only based on the victim’s email to Shoma Choudary, Managing editor of Tehelka, explaining what happened in Goa, but also based on the “apology” letter by Tarun himself. If it wasn’t for his letter, accepting the guilt up to certain extent, I wouldn’t even have written this. I am putting the links to the real emails at the bottom, which show a very tragic two incidents. In respect of the victim, I am not putting the uncensored email, which gives the grave nature of the situation.
In the recently completed Think conference by Tehelka, the Editor in Chief, and the founder of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal twice sexually assaulted (I think it is a rape in current standards) a subordinate, who also happened to be his colleague’s daughter, who he knew since she was born. The manner in which he assaulted the girl was terrifying. For the context, in brief…
Tehelka is at Goa for their signature high-profile Think conference. During this event, Tarun Tejpal and the victim were in an elevator where he pulled down the dress of the girl and pushed himself on to her. She told him NO, and complained to her colleagues after going to her room. She wanted to quit after the Think event was over. The day after, he repeats similar behavior with her. What is this behavior, and why she ended up with him in the elevator again, and why she didn’t quit right away, can be found in the links below.
Tehelka which has set high standards for journalism and the definition of sexual assault/rape on women, did a very ordinary job when their employee reported the incident. They consider an apology by Tarun and stepping down 6 months is the right response. Is this the punishment for sexually assaulting a girl, that too, for taking advantage of the power? Then Shoma goes on to the media, and announces that the girl has been satisfied with the response from Tehelka. Of course the girl was not satisfied, but the bigger point is, is Tehelka satisfied with it’s own response?
Since the victim is disappointed with the response from both Tarun and Shoma, now Shoma says she has constituted an independent committee to investigate this matter, but this is perceived as a damage control at this point. What is mind-boggling is, how can someone who calls herself a feminist, and who reports on such issues everyday “disappoint” the victim with her response? Now she says she will NOT speak to the Police, and let the investigative committee take it’s course. Shoma also seen very defensive about Tejpal in Rajdeep’s interview (link below).
I also do not believe that Shoma and others didn’t know about this until the girl sent the email to her. It is also hard to believe that this is the first offense of Tejpal, as you will see by the way Tejpal’s daughter responded to the victim in the below emails.
Unfortunately, this is a terrible thing for the Tehelka journalists, who do amazing reporting. If Shoma had responded the way she would expect any other employer to do, she would have saved the face of Tehelka upto certain extent. I wish Tehelka moves on quickly, but I can’t see how at this point.
Email from the victim to Shoma. explaining the incident at Goa: http://www.newsbullet.in/india/34-more/48043-tehelka-sex-scandal-what-had-happened-in-goa
Apology email from Tejpal, and Victim’s response to the apology email: http://blogs.outlookindia.com/default.aspx?ddm=10&pid=3087&eid=5
Rajdeep Interviewing Shoma: http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/435581/sex-assault-no-case-as-girl-hasnt-filed-an-fir-says-tehelka.html
Tejpal email to Shoma stepping down, and Shoma’s email to the employees: http://blogs.outlookindia.com/default.aspx?ddm=10&pid=3084&eid=31