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Millennium Post

Can’t hide behind blasé politicisation

There is nothing remotely conscientious in Tarun Tejpal’s trying to erect a puerile wall of baseless defence, claiming that rival political parties, particularly the BJP government in Goa, are trying to make hay while the sun of the Tehelkagate controversy shines. This is not only atrocious a fabrication – alleging that the young journalist, who until the rape allegation came to the fore, had been a perfectly fine candidate in Tejpal’s eyes to share his crusade within media and beyond, a participant in the intellectual carnival that was supposedly the Thinkfest 2013 – it is also an extremely reprehensible step resorted to by Tejpal to skirt the pressing charges against him. Already, the media baron has put his case in the dock by trying to harass the victim into redacting the allegations, and now he has moved the Delhi high court seeking anticipatory bail in the matter. But given the gravity of the charges, that of alleged sexual assault and rape, both cognisable offences punishable under Sections 354A, 354B, 376(2) of the Indian Penal Code, in addition to the non-cognisable offences under the Sexual harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 – he must be denied the leverage. As a number of prominent thinkers and intellectuals, politicians and personalities have already put it forward, the case against Tejpal is watertight, and his resorting to empty maneuvers to build up a sympathy wave in his favour, and to hide behind bogus excuses of a manufactured political conspiracy aimed to discredit him and his organisation, do not stand a chance in the eyes of the law.

Already the young journalist and a number of her colleagues have submitted their resignations from the news organisation that had projected itself as a conscience-keeper of the nation, as a crusader (albeit selective) against corruption of certain kinds, with certain political colours. It is obvious that Tejpal has been put in a corner by his own grandiose and self-exculpatory letter of ‘atonement’ and his attempt to douse out the fire by pouring a politically-flavoured cold water on the burning issue will not do him any good. Not only has he tried to insinuate he cannot expect a fair investigation and trial in a BJP-ruled state, Goa, he has also indicated that the victim has been lying, even when his own emails have prima facie admitted to the crime. What is at stake is not just justice for the victim of the heinous sexual assault by a person in position of power, a custodial rape in other words, but also what a news organisation, that had been positioning itself as the best and first in the fourth estate, really stands for after conducting itself so shabbily when the fingers of accusation pointed towards itself. We also need to think about Tehelka’s hobnobbing with the mining mafia in Goa in order to obtain sponsorship money from the previous state government as well as its threatening to expose the illegal iron ore mining in the state by big private sector companies in complicity with the state administration, so as to conduct the Thinkfest at an unprecedentedly lavish scale. Given Tehelka’s history of unethical practices, accepting dubious corporate sponsorships and its selective rage against the political machine, the very culture of partisan grandstanding that has infested the media must be debated as well.
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