Rejecting allegations of “cover-up”, Shoma resigns saying she does not want questions raised about her integrity to “tarnish the image of Tehelka’.
Ten days after the Tehelka journalist complained about sexual harassment by her editor-in-chief Tarun J Tejpal, managing editor Shoma Choudhury resigned from her position early morning today. She tendered her resignation to the Tehelka staff rejecting the allegations of “cover-up” on her part.
The conscience of managing editor must have awakened due to six employee resignations in a row over the past week in Tehelka.
However, her resignation letter seemed more like a rebuttal to the allegations levelled against her in the public by the victim and the media. The victim had shown her disappointment over the way things were handled by Shoma belittling the leadership she provided in the hard times.
The feminist positions that Shoma was known for taking came under heavy fire for the same. Reacting to those allegations, she wrote in her resignation that as for her feminist positions, she believed that she “acted in consonance” with them by giving her “colleague’s account precedence over everything else”.
She also accepted that she “could have done many things differently and in a more measured way” and rejected the allegations of a “cover-up”.
But in the end it all was about Tehelka as she mentioned her reason of resigning from her post: “I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka”.
Full text of Shoma’s resignation
This has been a damaging time for all associated with Tehelka. Since the devastating allegation was first brought to my notice on 18th 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.
After the first steps to immediately address her expressed needs, the process of setting up the anti-sexual harassment committee was begun. There were only two days to act on the complaint before the story broke in the press.
Post this, things have been misconstrued and have snowballed exponentially in the media, based on half-facts and selective leaks.
In the next stage, once the committee was formed, the law would have taken its course according to the findings and recommendations. 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.
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 cognizance 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. There are many readers and colleagues who have believed in me and expressed their faith through this very difficult time. I am deeply grateful to them. 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.