Tarun J Tejpal and his translator

Tarun J Tejpal and his translator (Photo credit: Cmic Blog)

Rukmini Shrinivasan

  The Goa police began to move on Thursday against Tarun Tejpal, founder and editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine Tehelka, following a female employee’s complaint that he sexually assaulted her.

The complainant had not filed a police complaint as of Thursday afternoon, but told news channels that she was not satisfied with the magazine’s actions thus far. Mr. Tejpal announced in an email to his staff on Wednesday stepping aside from his position for six months, as “penance”. He described the incident as “[a] bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation…led to an unfortunate incident”.

However, in her email to Tehelka Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury, the victim described two counts of sexual assault by Mr. Tejpal. She asked for an unconditional apology from Mr. Tejpal and for that apology to be circulated among staffers. She asked that Tehelka constitute a committee under the Vishakha guidelines (which deal with sexual harassment at the workplace) to investigate the matter.

The alleged assault took place during the recently concluded Thinkfest that the magazine organised at a hotel in Goa. Mr. Tejpal assaulted her and intimidated her afterwards, leading to her being distraught and frightened, she said in her email to Ms. Chaudhury.

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told The Hindu that he had ordered a preliminary inquiry into the alleged assault by Mr. Tejpal. Based on the report of the preliminary inquiry, the next course of action would be decided, he added. Deputy Inspector General of Police O. P. Mishtra told The Hindu that he had asked the hotel to preserve its CCTV footage.

Meanwhile, the National Commission for Women said it would look into the case. The Network of Women in the Media (NWMI) and the Delhi Union of Journalists asked that news organisations immediately constitute sexual harassment cells as required by the law. The NWMI said that should the victim seek to press criminal charges, Tehelka must cooperate.

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