Will Tarun Tejpal open Pandora’s box?

In some instances such abuse is misrepresented as consensual. This type of consent is as forced as molestation.

The way in which the case of an editor who sexually exploited an intern is being played out, one would envisage that people never had a stumpy opinion of the media. From the looks of it they anticipate the highest standards of decorum, chastity and ethics from the news vendors.

Sting crusader Tarun Tejpal, founder and editor of Tehelka, the investigative and now and then contentious magazine, is stung by sexual assault charges of forcing himself upon a young reporter from his officel during the latest ThinkFest organised by the magazine. He wrote a letter to the managing editor; she, consecutively, forwarded it to the rest of the staff with a small note. Of course not noteworthy.

Let’s have a glance at the note from a long-term viewpoint. He has to keep his finest people around and make sure that they are not affected by the humiliation. It is part graybeard and mainly selfishness. His reference of six-month leave is doubtlessly a face-saver or maybe someone up there has given some sort of assurance?

Tejpal, certainly, made efforts to cover up his paths:

“It is tragic, therefore, that in a lapse of judgment I have hurt our own high principles. Because it involves Tehelka, and a sterling shared legacy, I feel atonement cannot be just words. I must do the penance that lacerates me.”

This is all about him, and not a consideration for the young woman, the daughter of his old colleague, his daughter’s friend. Though, the trivial objection over his use of vocabulary has disclosed something – most have played right into it by getting moralizing themselves instead of treating his actions as a crime that requires to be tried lawfully.

Managing Director Shoma Chaudhary in her letter to the Tehelka team has termed it an “untoward incident”. Yet again, much as this phrase is reductionist, did she have an option if she had to forward a note? Could she go ahead of the permission, that also when she was to be responsible of the team?

This happening, like many others, has become about attaining over a foe. Tehelka was evidently a magazine with Congress ‘inclinations, so the opposition is fast to bring in mentions to Asaram Bapu and even the snooping case by ‘Sahib’ in Gujarat, as though one sin cancels the other. Then there are players in the media, who have got a magnificent chance to criticize at everything Tehelka has done, as if their own abode is clean.

Should this event be an instance for divulging the media? Yes. But, if anybody considers it as an isolated episode, then they are mistaken. The supposition behind wanting such an exposé is that the public actually did not trust such a thing was likely and the media was honest. It appears more like pretending of innocence.

In some instances such abuse is misrepresented as consensual. This type of consent is as forced as molestation. In addition to media bosses, there are the sponsors, the businessmen, traders, film celebrities, PR agents, and even co-workers that follow on the ladder. Women are used as enticement, if not a direct honey trap.

Is anyone actually concerned in the victim or justice for her? Does it matter whether or not she covered stories of exploitation for the magazine? What if she wrote a chitchat column or about fashion or sexy things — should we then evaluate her in a different way?

Tehelka was given a corona by the readers, largely for its over-highlighting on sting operations that became fashionable. Now, they are considering this as the tale of the fallen hero. Justice is not about self-satisfied resentment. Mr. Tejpal needs to be legally punished as he has dishonoured the whole fraternity. Sheer introspection is not sufficient.

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