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Millennium Post

Tarun Tejpal’s heart of darkness

Is there a difference between the Tehelka rape accused Tarun Tejpal and the disgraced godman Asaram? Hardly. Both are men who considered themselves invincible, housed in their customised stratosphere of impunity and using art, literature or religion as means to an end, that of self-aggrandisement and abuse of power. While Asaram hid behind the bunkum of spiritual hocus-pocus and lured gullible, poorly educated men and women to his den of lies and fabrication, Tejpal, masked his essentially predatory nature beneath a veneer of suave literary exterior, and utilised a scintillatingly sharp mind to clinch nefarious deals. Be it his resorting to threatening the previous Goa government over exposing the illegal iron ore mining in the state in order to extract a hefty sponsorship from the questionable corporates, or his using of his power and position to force sexual liaison on a junior colleague – Tejpal’s conduct has been less than savoury. His volte-face – from that of claiming to be ‘lacerated’, admitting ‘bad lapse of judgment, misreading of situation’ to that of accusing the race victim as an agent of his political foes, of saying that she ‘partied after the incident’, ‘participated in the fest with elan’ – is utterly regrettable, to say the least. In fact, it is clear that Tejpal, being cornered from all sides, is trying his best to fabricate an alternate version at the expense of all the self-proclaimed values and principles that Tehelka stood for. The editor-in-chief’s slanderous comments on the rape victim, offered in the Delhi High Court to support his request for anticipatory bail are in sharp contrast with his earlier letter of ‘atonement’, where he had ‘apologised unconditionally for the shameful lapse of judgment that led [him] to attempt a sexual liaison with [her] on two occasions … despite [her] clear reluctance.’ If this is not gut-wrenching enough, more heartbreaking was the letter of resignation from the victim, which clearly stated that Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury were orchestrating a massive cover-up of the issue, falsifying all the core values of any progressive media organisation.

It’s outrageous that Tejpal would take to blaming the rightwing political brigade for engineering his own fall from grace, when it is the outcome of his own sense of impunity, invincibility and male sexual entitlement. This is not a case of the former sting baron being framed for political reasons, and as a noted writer has put it, the young victim is not ‘an agent of the fascists.’ What would Tejpal gain by conflating the two issues if not score brownie points and time to shore up a rickety self-defence? It is extremely sad that even journalists of the calibre of Tarun Tejpal must stoop to such low, use literature to fabricate and prevaricate and take to purple prose to clothe his nakedness his public eye. Now that the media has woken up to the heinousness of the crime and the years of self-serving licence that men in position of power have given to extract unwarranted favours, both sexual and otherwise, from junior colleagues, what we must end is the entrenched culture of impunity everywhere, including that in the work place. Tejpal must be denied anticipatory bail and taken into police custody with immediate effect.
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