Full force of law must be brought to bear, says Editors Guild

The Goa Police on Thursday initiated a criminal investigation into allegations that Tarun Tejpal, founder and editor-in-chief of Tehelka, sexually assaulted a woman employee of the weekly magazine.

The alleged incidents took place during ‘Thinkfest’, an event organised by the magazine at a hotel in Goa in the second week of November.

In an e-mail to Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka’s managing editor, the victim said Mr. Tejpal had attacked her on two occasions. These, she stated, were followed by acts of intimidation.

Ms. Chaudhury sent an e-mail to staff members on Wednesday, saying Mr. Tejpal was temporarily stepping down from his position due to “an untoward incident”. It said: “Though he has extended an unconditional apology to the colleague involved, Tarun will be recusing himself as the editor of Tehelka for the next six months.”

In the letter, the victim asks for an apology from Mr. Tejpal, and for that apology to be circulated among staff members. She asks Tehelka to constitute a committee under Supreme Court-mandated guidelines on investigating workplace sexual harassment.

Mr. Tejpal was not available for comment. However, in an e-mail to Ms. Chaudhury on Wednesday, he described the incident as “[a] bad lapse of judgment,” adding: “I must do the penance that lacerates me.”

Call by Editors Guild

The Editors Guild of India said in a statement that “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.”

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