Tarun Tejpal, the editor-in-chief of the news portal Tehelka, based on media reports, did not molest a defenseless young female reporter in his employ. If one were to go by FBI’s reasonable definition of rape, he raped her. He even had the temerity to gloatingly text his victim alluding to the rape.
Why has Tejpal not been arrested pending trial yet? Is it because he is rich and politically connected with the ruling UPA government? One may remember that the rapists of Nirbhaya in Delhi were arrested, denied bail, and tried. Why isn’t the same policy applied to Tejpal? Tejpal has incriminated himself by sending a confessional email besides the abovementioned text message whereas the rapists of Nirbhaya falsely denied their crime. If anything, this confessional should warrant Tejpal’s immediate arrest, denial of bail, and trial.
There is no difference between the rapists of Nirbhaya and their collaborator on the one hand and Tejpal and his collaborator Shoma Chaudhary, the managing editor of Tehelka, on the other. In my article, Reclaiming the Sacred Feminine in the Aftermath of Delhi Gang-Rape, I had cited the researches of Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer on rape based on evolutionary biological models vide their book A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion. They point out that rape is primarily motivated by sexual urges. This is why most of the victims of rape are young and reproductively fit. Rapists target the most vulnerable victims. This is true of both the rapists of Nirbhaya and Tejpal. Nirbhaya’s rapists targeted her because she was defenseless in a moving bus. Tejpal targeted a young journalist in his employ because he felt that she would be intimidated by the power equation.
Chaudhary attempted to shield Tejpal. Why has she not been arrested for collusion with a rapist like the bus driver in the Nirbhaya case was? What else has she done? Has she been intimidating Tehelka’s system administrators to purge emails and other incriminating evidence? Has she used her political clout to purge the records of the mobile provider of incriminating evidence?
Tejpal, Chaudhary, and Tehelka pose a serious threat to the trial and to the safety of the victim Tejpal raped. Already, the victim has complained of intimidation by Tejpal’s family. She has also resigned from her job at Tehelka accusing Chaudhary of being hostile toward her. At least three other colleagues of hers to whom she had first narrated her sordid rape have also quit the portal expressing displeasure over the way Chaudhary conducted herself. These testify to the potential Tejpal, Chaudhary, and Tehelka have to destroy evidence or endanger the rape victim.
This incident raises other questions too. Tehelka offices are located in a posh New Delhi enclave. Tehelka splurges money on hosting events where it invites celebrities like Robert de Niro. In a market where news portals face stiff competition and struggle to survive, where does Tehelka find this kind of money? What is its readership? How much advertising revenue, the main source of income for a news portal, does it earn? Is Tehelka a conduit for nefarious activities under the façade of investigative journalism?
In recent years, a visible section of India’s English media has become the den of wheelers and dealers. They run extortion rackets under the guise of investigative journalism and act as middlemen for clinching contracts. Unscrupulous persons, often affiliated with the ruling UPA and other leftist organizations, run these shady news portals. They have no consideration whatsoever for the dignity of women and treat a woman as a commodity to be used and cast away. These portals are backed by the politicians of India’s powerful and corrupt ruling coalition.
Tejpal and Chaudhary should be arrested, denied bail, and publicly tried if Indian judiciary values justice. Investigators should nominate someone who has not had any affiliation with Tejpal, Chaudhary, or Tehelka to manage the portal until the trial is over so that evidence is not tampered with. Tejpal’s daughter reportedly stated that she has witnessed Tejpal molest or rape other women. It is important to get to the fullest depths of all the crimes the Tehelka glitterati have committed. A thorough investigation into the finances of Tehelka would be an essential starting point of such a discovery.