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Tehelka forms panel to probe sexual assault charge against Tarun Tejpal | The Indian Express

Related. Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar Thursday ordered a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the founder and editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine, Tarun Tejpal ,had sexually assaulted a colleague during a media event in the state and promised action if the crime was established. Parrikars announcement came a day after Tejpal said he was stepping down as editor-in-chief for six months to atone for the unfortunate incident after a young woman journalist working for the magazine accused him of sexually assaulting her in a Goa hotel on two occasions earlier this month,sparking national outrage. Goa Police sources said that they had written to Tehelkas managing editor Shoma Chaudhury to whom the woman journalist had complained about the alleged incidents and would also be sending a representative to meet her and seek the magazines cooperation in the probe. Goa Police wants Tehelka to hand over all information in its possession related to the alleged incident. It is also looking for evidence at the hotel in Goa,including CCTV footage,to see if there is enough material to register an FIR,the sources said. We could have filed an FIR if the girl had registered a complaint. It need not be a signed complaint,even a telephonic complaint will be taken into consideration, Parrikar told reporters after meeting top state police officers. However,I have ordered a preliminary enquiry after going through the mail that was supposedly sent by the victim and is being circulated among mediapersons, he said,adding that he was getting a call per minute about the incident Thursday morning. The Chief Minister said that he suspected the alleged incident may have taken place in Goa when Tejpal made his announcement to step down Wednesday and ordered the probe Thursday after it was confirmed that it was alleged to have taken place in Goa. Since the criminal offence took place in the jurisdiction of Goa,the local police will probe it. The police have been instructed to obtain information about the authenticity of the victims mail. Unless thats established,we cant use it as a primary complaint, Parrikar said. However,all corroborative evidences indicate that the incident did occur. For example,the letter of apology from Tejpal shows that he is indirectly admitting to the crime, Parrikar said,adding that he had met Tejpal casually in the past. He said the Goa Police would need some time to investigate since the alleged incident had taken place about two weeks back and the woman journalist was not present in Goa. In her complaint to managing editor Chaudhury,the woman journalist had claimed that Tejpal sexually assaulted her on two occasions during the Think fest event organised by the magazine at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Bambolim. She is said to have claimed that Tejpal had on one occasion pulled her into a lift at a five-star hotel and pressed buttons to ensure the elevator stayed in circuit and did not stop or open doors while he assaulted her. Tejpal allegedly tried to assault her again the next day,again by pulling her into a lift at the same hotel,the woman is said to have alleged. In response,Tejpal wrote to Chaudhury and claimed a bad lapse of judgment and an awful misreading of the situation had led to an unfortunate incident and that he had unconditionally apologised for his misconduct. Chaudhury had said the woman journalist had not filed a criminal complaint and that she,as well as other staffers,were satisfied with the action taken. However,NDTV reported Thursday that the woman journalist was disappointed by Tehelkas response to her complaint. To claim that other journalists in Tehelka are satisfied is false since my testimony has not been publicly circulated within Tehelka,only Taruns letter of atonement has, NDTV reported her as saying. Later on Thursday,Chaudhury said in a statement that Tehelka had constituted a formal complaints committee,in accordance with Vishaka guidelines,to be presided over by Urvashi Butalia,eminent feminist and publisher,to investigate the case. Besides,Tehelka will ensure setting up a formal complaints committee,according to section 4 of the Sexual Harassment of Women (Prevention,Prohibition and Redressal Act,2013),an institutional mechanism that was sorely missing in Tehelk,she said. Separately,Tehelka also tweeted that Tejpal had not left the country. Goa police sources said they were focused on examining if they could register an FIR in the case and it would be simpler if Tehelka cooperated with the police. If not,they would explore other legal options. Recording the alleged victims statement would also be crucial and the sources said they were hoping the woman journalist agrees to it. But legal experts said police could pursue the case even without her complaint. Parrikar said his government would go by the law. There wont be any leniency or excesses, Parrikar said,dismissing notions that the probe could be influenced by politics. Crime is never committed by taking permission from a political setup. You cant blame a political party for it, he added. He also said questions had been raised about how Tehelka could fund such a huge,non-revenue earning event at a seven-star hotel and authorities could look into it if the sexual assault charges are proved. Parrikar said such incidents were unfortunate but was confident they would not hurt Goas image. Tejpal and the victim are not Goans. And the incident happened in a hotel. These are personal crimes and they cant be stopped by the police, Parrikar said. The CM believes what happened showed Tejpals personal weakness and the Think fest event could not be held responsible for it.
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