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Goa cops summon Tejpal from six-month vacation

Goa police, who are now in possession of the CCTV footage from the Grand Hyatt hotel where the crime took place, have summoned Tejpal for questioning, as directed by the state chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who said that ‘high profile cases need high profile action.’

On Thursday evening, Tarun Tejpal’s name was withdrawn from the list of recommended journalists to be part of the Prasar Bharati board after the vice-president Hamid Ansari expressed strong reservations on the issue, which has caused massive outrage on news and social media, with Twitter flooded with strong and vehement reactions against the senior journalist, who can be potentially be charged with rape under the new Anti-Rape Act.

Members of the media as well as representative bodies such as the Editors’ Guild of India (EGI), Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) and Press Club of India have categorically condemned the incident demanding his immediate arrest and expressing their stance on standing by the side of the victim. Incidentally, Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu and several other largely circulated national newspapers had blacked out the story on Thursday. According to the statement issued by the EGI, ‘Such incidents anywhere are condemnable in the strongest terms but the Guild is particularly saddened that they should engulf a media organisation.’ DUJ, meanwhile, proclaimed, ‘Tarun Tejpal’s statement admitting a ‘lapse of judgement’ and his self-declared sabbatical from editorship both confirm the allegation. It is clear that he stands in breach of the law.’ Earlier, the National Commission for Women had also condemned the incident and demanded that criminal proceedings be initiated against Tejpal and his organisation.

Prominent mediapersons such as Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sachin Kalbagh, Rahul Pandita, Shobha De as well as public figures like Kiran Bedi and others have come out strongly in favour of initiating legal action against the assaulting journalist and arresting him. However, the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari refused to comment on the issue saying that it is a sensitive matter.

In addition, after a barrage of public criticism from every quarter of the broadcast and social media, Tehelka, at last, has decided to set up a sexual harassment complaint committee to probe the charges of sexual assault against Tejpal. The panel will be headed by women’s rights activist Urvashi Butalia.
On Thursday night, Tehelka’s managing editor Shoma Chaudhury issued a public statement, saying, ‘In furtherance to Tehelka’s acceptance of Tarun Tejpal’s recusal from editorship of Tehelka on November 20th, which followed the official unconditional apology he had mailed to the journalist concerned on November 19th, Tehelka has now constituted a formal complaints committee, in accordance to Vishaka guidelines.’

Tehelka’s turnaround happened after Chaudhury’s comments to enquiring reporters came under heavy criticism. ‘It is not a case. The aggrieved party sent me a mail. She wanted action and it has been taken… It is an internal matter,’ Chaudhury had said.

Two powerful cabinet ministers, Kapil Sibal and Praful Patel, as well as a consistent supporter of the Tehelka group and Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmad Patel, were not available for comment. K D Singh, presently a Trinamool Congress MP, who supposedly owns a sizeable share in Tehelka group, was also not available to journalists for any reaction.
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