His Letter to the Managing Editor, Tehelka
Soon after the infamous and abhorrent episode was brought to the notice of Shoma Chaudhary, managing editor of Tehelka by the victim journalist, Tarun Tejpal wrote an intimate letter to the managing editor where he informed of his decision to step down as the editor-in-chief for six months. Shoma forwarded it to the all the employees of Tehelka. As a result, it got leaked and went viral and that's how the letter as well as the incident came to the media's descry.
Now the question emanating here is despite the letter being a confidential one, why the managing editor did forward Tejpal's letter to all the employees of the organization and the biggest one being how it got leaked? Right after the incident became public; the social media sphere was flooded with views and reviews of public, who even tried to point towards a self-seeking motive of Shoma Chaudhury. Thus, these facts can't be sidelined.
On the other hand, Shoma Chaudhary had to face severe criticism for referring the incident as an internal one. Whereas, legal experts say the email clearly outlines criminal offences and that Shoma Chaudhury broke the law by not reporting the matter to the police.
The Victim too comes under scanner
As per media reports and letter of the victim to Shoma Chaudhary; Tehelka supremo Tarun Tejpal had allegedly tried to sexually molest the victim on two occasions. Sexual assault of any form is a horrendous and heinous act, and as journalist the victim is well aware of it. So, despite savvying Tejpal’s filthy intensions, on the very first day itself, why did she not report about it to the senior Tehelka officials or even the police?
The Goa Factor
Those closely following Tehelka will perhaps be well aware that the organization known for its investigative journalism had done extensive reporting and sting operations, exposing the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, match-fixing scandal involving cricketers such as Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Ajay Sharma, among other investigative stuffs.
The magazine initially launched as a news portal gained popularity after Operation West End, one of India’s sensational and highly talked sting operations, that exposed high level corruption in the Indian Defense Ministry, during the tenure of BJP government that led to the resignation of the then Defense Minister of India, George Fernandez and Tehelka itself had to go through a rough patch, which came on the verge of shutting down.
This recent incident where Tarun Tejpal is strangled took place in Goa, which is ruled by BJP, so there are chances that his trial might not be a fair one and perhaps that's why there are reports that considering all his legal options and Tejpal may move the High Court to ask for the case to be transferred out of Goa.
Whatever be it, considering the present scenario it's tough for one to believe that a person who is considered to be the father of sting journalism by The Guardian, a person who was named by Business Week amongst 50 leaders at the forefront of change in Asia. Someone whom the former speaker of Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee, said, should be conferred India's highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna for Operation West End, is today battling with such abhorrent allegations.
However, it even can't be over looked as Tarun Tejpal himself has confessed to this stating it to be a complete consensual one and previously forwarded a letter of apology to the victim quoting, ''Shameful lapse of judgment that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me.'' Investigations have already started and one should wait for the results before drawing any conclusions, as truth is inevitable.
Lastly, regarding the attempts to tarnish the image of Tehelka, proves the fact that, no matter how much commendable job one does, just one foul task puts a veil on everything.
Personalism and professionalism are two entirely different stratums and one shouldn't mix them. Tehelka certainly succeeded in bringing a revolution in the arena of investigative sting journalism. As its tag line says, ''Free, Fair and Fearless,'' and so does it deliver.
Why to raise fingers and abuse the entire organization. After all, Tehelka is not known because of a single person, but it's the collective effort of the dedicated journalists that makes Tehelka's global stature.
However, one serious question that the incident has left unanswered is, 'a girl working under the parasol of the fourth estate is, sexually victimized. So, are women really safe in their workplace??'