8 questions over the Tehelka sex scandal

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 22, 2013 05:29 hrs
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​​The latest Tehelka magazine sex scandal where head honcho Tarun Tejpal has been accused of sexually harassing an employee from his own company has raised some interesting questions, some which are being discussed and some which are not…

1. Where is Tejpal?

Tehelka editor Shoma Chaudhury has grandly declared that Tejpal is not a fugitive from the law. However Twitterverse is abuzz with rumours that Tejpal has fled the country with some Tweets saying that he is in Canada.

What is the truth? Where is Tejpal? Is he in India or not? The Goa police have already begun their investigation and are in the process of collecting evidence. Surely the next step is to bring in Tejpal for questioning.

But where is Tejpal?

2. Shouldn’t Shoma step down from her post?

One person who has really come out bad from this whole tragedy is Shoma herself. First the victim said in the email that she didn't want to disturb Shoma at Think 2013. That does not reflect very well on Shoma as a boss.

Then this whole issue was on the backburner for a fortnight and when Shoma wrote the email, it seemed like a cover-up and to make matters worse she seemed to be giving her stamp of approval over the six-month 'recuse' nonsense.

To make matters worse she came out arrogantly and seemed to tell everyone that it was none of anyone's business and the whole think was an internal matter. And how can you dismiss a clear case of sexual harassment as an 'incident'? That’s pretty sick.

She also claimed that the victim was satisfied with the whole process while others came on record saying that they had talked to the victim and that definitely wasn't the case.

Some gems…

'Are you the aggrieved party?'

'I don't know how this concerns you...I don't think you can ask me these questions.'

'Tarun did more than what victim demanded.'

That’s pretty rich coming from a magazine that has led a vicious witch-hunt against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra for more than a decade now. Modi has not pleaded guilty of any crime while Tejpal has.

The sheer arrogance of Shoma in this whole case has been astounding.

3. Why didn’t they have a committee in the first place?

The Vishaka Guidelines against Sexual Harassment at Workplace which were laid down by the Supreme Court way back in 1997 clearly state that a committee should have looked into the victim's claims, a thing which initially Shoma denied would be set up.

Shouldn't Tehelka be penalized for not having a committee in the first place?

4. Why are most media outlets still using “alleged”?

When a State government is involved in surveillance tapes, the entire media goes overboard and calls the CM a stalker. That's called politicizing the very concept of 'stalking'.

In this case, the victim has made an allegation. The 'criminal' and Tehelka have accepted the fact. The only thing that is being quibbled over is procedure and quantum of punishment. (A 6-month recuse versus a multi-year jail term)

When all parties have accepted the crime, why are media outlets still using the word 'alleged'? Why are the phrases 'attempted rape' and 'sexual harassment' not being used outright?

5. What about the aam aurat?
The victim at the end of the day is still a journalist who yields some power when you compare her to say a housewife. The victim must be commended for the methodical way in which she has documented all the evidence and has asked for action to be taken in a step by step manner.

More so, the whole of India seems to be behind her. Despite that, Tejpal is still at large and one doesn't know how this whole case is going to be resolved. If a journalist with some power can face such problems, what hope is there for the aam aurat?

6. What is the Congress doing?

That Tehelka is anti-BJP and pro-Congress is no big secret. Tejpal was also on board Prasar Bharati and has a lot of clout in the current ruling dispensation. What is the Congress doing in this case? Why did the I&B Minister Manish Tewari come out with such a muted statement?

7. Why is social media still being rubbished?

One thing is clear. Had social media not been there, then this whole issue would not have come to light and it would have stayed an 'internal matter' like Shoma claimed. Despite this sections of media are still rubbishing social media.

8. What about the Tehelka staff?

What do the rest of the Tehelka staffers feel? We all have a right to know for the simple reason that Shoma said that they are satisfied. We now know that we can't take her word for it. We need to hear their side of the story.

A petard was a type of bomb used to blow up castle gates hundreds of years ago. Sometimes the petard would blow up prematurely and the 'petardier' would be blown away by the blast.

Years back Tejpal did a highly unethical sting which used prostitutes to trap Army officers. Now he is caught in a sex scandal of his own, but one of his own making.
You could say that Tejpal has been 'hoisted with his own petard'.

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