A day after Tehelka founder Tarun Tejpal stepped down as Editor-in-chief over sexual assault allegations against him, managing editor Shoma Chaudhury defended his move reiterating that the victim was satisfied with the action taken.
"When I confronted Tarun about this very angrily, he had a different version, but I demanded an apology over this. I over-ruled Tarun's version and got him to give an unconditional apology. It was also decided that Tarun would step down, as even if it was consensual, it was a transgression of his role," Shoma, current Editor-in-chief of Tehelka, told ANI.
"The victim said she accepted the apology and felt no further need for vengeance," she added. The victim had not filed an FIR, however, the National Commission of Women was successful in convincing Goa Police. On Friday, the state police lodged an FIR against Tejpal and have gone to Delhi to interrogate the editorial team of Tehelka.
Shoma denied rumours that Tejpal had fled the country to avoid facing a court case. "Tarun Tejpal is in the country and he will speak to the committee. Why will he run away?" Shoma said. On Thursday, the popular investigative magazine formed a 'complaints committee', headed by publisher Urvashi Butalia, to probe the sexual assault charges.
For the first time since the incident was made public, Tejpal released a statement. "I am ready to extend fullest cooperation to police and offer to present all facts. I urge the committee and police to examine and release the CCTV footage so that accurate version of the event stands revealed," he said.
"I have acted in the interest of the aggrieved journalist. In 3 days, he (Tarun Tejpal) has apologized and stepped down. I have formed a committee to look into it, how is this a delay?" Shoma said.
However, a close confidante of the journalist spoke to a news channel saying that the victim was not satisfied with the action taken by her employers.
"It was only by television that I got to know she was disappointed with our actions, now a committee will look in to it. In addition to her, he has betrayed the faith of other journalists," Shoma said.
The journalist was allegedly assaulted in Goa on 7 and 8 November, during Tehelka 'Think' festival. In an email to Shoma, Tejpal had blamed himself for the incident citing a 'bad lapse of judgment'.
The close friend of the victim told Delhi Darbur that the journalist had evidence in form of SMSs that could be used against Tejpal.
Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has decided to register a suo moto case if evidence is found. The state police has asked for the CCTV footage from the hotel where Tejpal and his female colleague had stayed. But Shoma refused to comply with the Goa police unless the girl filed an FIR, she told CNN-IBN.
Derek O'Brien, Trinamool Congress MP: This is a matter of very serious concern, of men in power showing despicable conduct. This case is the Nirbhaya moment for Indian journalism.
Abha Singh,Lawyer: "Law says that he has committed a crime. Law was not made by him that he can take decisions on his own."
Giriraj Singh, BJP leader: "what is the importance of IPC when #Tejpal and #APP having own courts and verdicts.. and congress having CBI for cleanchit ..???"
Kiran Bedi, social activist and IPS officer: "Why is Shoma wasting time on TV explaining.Moment she got d email abt #Tejpal's criminal act she should have informed d police! She did not! Await to see how Tehelka reports its 'Own Tehelka'!In #Tejpal case a woman in position has come in d way of another woman in need of justice."
Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha): "The allegations are serious. Both internal inquiry and police investigation should happen. Some private arrangement between journalists is a joke played on law and justice. It is the duty of all in society to support the victim, not put pressure on her to stay quiet."
Brinda Karat, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader: "If offenders decide punishments themselves then what is the use of law and courts in the country?"
Nirmala Sitharaman, BJP spokesperson: "...no further need for vengeance" ?!! Did you actually say this @ShomaChaudhury ?BTW in Tehelka's dictionary, what is vengeance?"
She had tweeted earlier that every organisation should have such a complaints committee and the magazine's move to set one now is a welcome step but 'not a favor done'... 2/n "Committee's job starts even when a complaint is made. Here a confession to the crime is made.Let the Committee also do its job," she posted
O P Mishra, Deputy Inspector General, Goa Police (Panjim): "We have asked Shoma Chaudhary to give the statements and documents given by the victim. Preliminary inquiry has begun by the Goa police. CCTV footage from the hotel will be examined. We are attempting to contact the victim but we will respect her privacy."
Meenakshi Lekhi, BJP spokesperson: "#tejpal under the amended definition its Sexual assault & not molestation, matter between the state &the accused,victim is just a witness."
Farhan Akhtar, Filmmaker: "Disappointed and disillusioned by Tehelka's official response thus far. Reeks of double standards."
Smriti Irani, BJP member: "According to Shoma Chaudhary because she heard thru media dat d victim is 'disappointed' she has constituted a 'committee'. What a farce!"
Shamina Shafiq, member of National Commission of Women: "We are writing to the Goa police. There is enough evidence to lodge an FIR."
Check out the latest interview of Shoma Chaudhary below