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Shoma Chaudhury steps down as Managing Editor of Tehelka

Chaudhury sent her resignation early this morning, a move that came as Goa police closed in on Tejpal, who is likely to appear before it by 3 PM today and speculation that she may also be named in the FIR for certain alleged acts of commission and omission after the scandal became public.

'Over the past week, I have been accused of an attempt to cover-up and for not standing by my feminist positions. While I accept that I could have done many things differently and in a more measured way, I reject the allegations of a cover-up because in no way could the first actions that were taken be deemed suppression of any kind.

'As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague's account precedence over everything else,' Chaudhury said in her resignation letter.

'However, despite this, as a result of what's transpired over the past few days, my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognisance of this.

'I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of
Tehelka
, which it has done in the past week.

'Therefore, I resign as Managing Editor with immediate effect,' Chaudhury said. Ever since the scandal became public Chaudhury, a shareholder in Tehelka and associated companies started by Tejpal, was accused of cover up and not taking proper action the case demanded.

Initially, Chaudhury sought to portray it as an internal matter and was more interested in getting an apology from Tejpal to the victim rather than reporting it to police because of the nature of the cognisable offence. Later, she tried to set up an internal complaints committee with Urvashi Butalia, a friend of Tejpal, as its head to go into the issue.

The committee never took off and Butalia refused to be part of it. Meanwhile, a number of editors resigned from the magazine accusing Chaudhury of not doing justice to the victim and being interested only in protecting Tejpal.

Chaudhury said in the letter, 'I will come in to office to close the issue and do the necessary handovers. I cannot express how painful this is for me. It has never been a part of me to give up midway through a challenge. I would have liked to continue at Tehelka to see us through this dark time, but I am no longer sure whether my presence is harming or helping Tehelka.

'I deeply regret any inadequacies or lack of clarity I may have displayed in my leadership.'

In the letter, Chaudhury, who was questioned by Goa police last Saturday, rued that her integrity was questioned and said 'things have been misconstrued and have snowballed exponentially in the media, based on half-facts and selective leaks.

'This has been a damaging time for all associated with Tehelka. Since the devastating allegation was first brought to my notice on 18 November, I have taken a series of actions in response to this complaint.

'To my mind, I acted on instant outrage and solidarity for our colleague as a woman and co-worker,' she said.

Tejpal, who failed to get any immediate relief on his anticipatory bail petition in the Delhi High Court, was on Wednesday summoned by the Goa police to appear before it in connection with the probe in the case.

On Wednesday, the victim, a former journalist of Tehelka, who was allegedly sexually assaulted in a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa earlier this month, arrived here and recorded her statement under Section 164 of CrPC before a local court.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had on Wednesday dismissed Tejpal's accusations that the BJP government in the state was pursuing vendetta against him because of the sting operation conducted by his organisation that unseated party President Bangaru Laxman and other issues.

The woman journalist resigned from Tehelka on Monday.
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