Tuesday, February 18, 2014

India: Prominent Editor of News Magazine Becomes Front-Page News, Charged in Rape of Colleague

According to The National Post, a prominent Indian magazine editor, Tarun Tejpal, 50, editor of the weekly investigative magazine, Tehelka,  accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague in a hotel elevator said Tuesday February 18) that he is innocent and will be vindicated by security cameras.

Tejpal, the former editor of the Tehelka, contends that the charges have been orchestrated by his political adversaries. Police filed a 2,846-page charge sheet on Monday (February 17), accusing him of rape and wrongfully restraining the woman under new Indian laws which broaden the definition of rape to include some other forms of sexual assault.

“The charge sheet against me is out of political vendetta. I have done nothing wrong,” Tejpal told reporters outside a court house in the southern state of Goa, after his bail hearing was postponed until March 4.

COMMENT: The case has stunned many in India, in part because the 50-year-old editor led the magazine’s push to confront corruption and sexual violence in Indian society.

The rape victim has accused Tejpal of assaulting her twice in a hotel elevator, on November 7 and 8, when the magazine was hosting its annual conference of Indian leaders, newsmakers and celebrities.

In a resignation letter last year, the victim said she had endured “intimidation, character assassination and slander” since raising her allegations. Tejpal has been held in a Goa jail since his November 30, 2013 arrest. If convicted, he could face up to seven years in prison.

Police said Tejpal tried for weeks to evade arrest, with officers searching for him in Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Hyderabad.

Tehelka, which means upheaval or sensation in Hindi, is closely followed by Indian journalists and the English-speaking elite. Using sting operations and exposés, the magazine has taken aim at high-level corruption.

According to the Press Trust of India, Tejpal has also been charged with "sexual harassment" and "outraging the modesty of a woman", the Press Trust of India reports.

Tejpal has been in prison since November 30, 2013. He denies the charges.

The fact that the police made its case in a document almost 3,000 pages long, interviewing more than 152 witnesses in the process, is a graphic reminder of how sensitive the case is and how carefully they are approaching it.

Six journalists at Tehelka, including the publication's managing editor, have resigned over the controversy.

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.