Tehelka Gate, fourth estate and the mighty

The fourth estate has always been lauded for standing against social wrongs and crime perpetrated by the rich and powerful. After all, it was the voice of the people who has no one to turn to for expression of grief and seeking justice as well as redemption. As they say, two wrongs doesn’t make one right. What do you do when the trust is breached and mishandled?

We were shocked on the news that rocked Tehelka, where founder and chief editor, Tarun Tejpal alleged attempt to rape a young journalist of the age of his daughter in Goa, not once but twice. I was shocked and felt a sense of abuse. My trust was violated. I tell you why: Tehelka-Journalism of Courage is a magazine I highly respected for being fearless and fighting for freedom of speech. Throughout the years, I admire the way how they took on authorities seeking nothing but the absolute truth. Tejpal was ‘someone’ who voiced his concern against rape, molestation against women and I am sure many journalists, like the young girl, looked up-to- him as the model.

Managing editor of Tehelka, Shoma Chaudhury is someone I respected a lot as a journalist for speaking fearlessly as a panelist on TV channels and conclaves on women’s rights, rape, physical and sexual assault. Is it not the same Shoma who vented her anger and seeking justice on TV channel? Now, what happened and I am aghast with horror when I saw her telling journalists that it is an internal matter of Tehelka and that media is more aggrieved than the girl in question. The fact is Shoma has shown her hypocrisy and double standard on the issues with her attempt to cover up. It’s crass and humiliating how she told her staff that Tejpal is sorry and committed an ‘error of judgement’, in his own words. Wow! Shoma! Now, rape or attempt to outrage the modesty of woman is a lapse of judgement..if everybody could get away with that!

Tehelka Gate raises a very important issue that many upper middle class and rich has shrugged away. Let’s face it: Crime is not the domain of the poor and it happens among rich families as well. The capitalists should do a reality check and not come up with the lame, ‘hamare yahan nahin hota.’ The case shows how rape cuts across social class and it doesn’t help us to avoid what goes behind the white sheet of rich families. I am also shocked how some media houses has published the letter written by the victim to Tehelka’s Shoma and which has gone viral on social networking sites. It is shocking. As a journalist, I cannot hide under freedom of information  to violate someone’s  privacy since the letter contains very personal details. I am just wondering how the letter internal to Tehelka has been made public. It is digital rape which is simply unacceptable.

It raises another important issue  whether we can trust the media as a social agency speaking against wrongful deeds in society. It makes me uncomfortable as a journalist after what I call as Tehelka Gate has emerged and one is tempted to ask who is objective and who is not. Should we trust the media to bring the truth at the forefront or is it an idealist view for future journalists armed with lofty ideas to bring change in society? I seek an answer and now I doubt whether objective journalism exist in the world. What makes matters worse was when Tehelka refused to set a committee demanded by the victim and they only buckled up under popular pressure.

Since when Tarun Tejpal and Shoma have become judges in the case? I cannot digest the fact that Tejpal offered to resign for six months in order to ‘atone’ for his ‘sins’. In the name of professional ethics, both Tarun and Shoma should have stepped down, one for the crime committed and the other for, cover up. As far as the girl is concerned, she is a very courageous soul that honors her profession and despite pressure built on her, she stood up for something right which one hope many journalists and women will follow. I wonder there will be attempt to pass stacks money under the table…



  1. Such a shocker it was! Tehelka had a reputation, and both Tejpal and Shoma came across as honest and sincere, little did we know.. As for his offer to take on ‘punishment’, well, the less said the better. So very convenient for him, isn’t it? I just hope he is brought to justice. At least that way future perpetrators would be deterred, if not, those in powerful positions will just misuse their power, again and again.

    • As a TV viewer and reader, I feel betrayed by both of them like many of us got a shocker. I respected Shoma a lot coz she stood for what is right on public forums and I can’t stand her arrogance now. Tehelka is a brand name and sadly those two will lead to its downfall. Shoma has shown her double standard and blatant hypocrisy since Tehelka sought nothing but the truth. It’s sad and I wonder whether there is something called objective journalism. Tehelka has betrayed the trust of a nation and people like Tejpal and Shoma should be the last people to speak about ethics, fight against rape and sexual violence.

    • yeah! also I can’t understand how it’s an internal matter and Tehelka failed to implement the Vishaka guideline which is against the law. How can Tejpal atone himself and excuse for six months. He is not a bloody law into himself and anybody can commit crime, atone and go for six months leave. I hope he reaches his end. At least, some sort of retributive justice will be served!

  2. I am not one who rushes to conclusions, esp. based on the stuff supplied by media or police or society. there is something missing in this case!

    that fellow really does not looks like a rapist, but then I have read that most people rape and regret for the rest of their lives.

    I am too much of a skeptic and way too experienced to trust anyone but myself blindly. bad for others good for me.

    you know men and women both are ace liars, and both have equal destructive capacity. I have met more destructive women than men so….

      • well, in that email he said that he thought it was consensual. what if he is speaking the truth? I am a big time skeptic sorry. its quite intriguing though that why don’t women use their cellphones in cases like this, simply record the antics, esp. on the second occasion- in first occasion it must have been surprise but in the second occasion that might have nailed the culprit.

        women should start applying the modern gadgets they carry around like lipstick and mascara.

        there is something downright fishy about this case. sorry.

        as from my experience well believe me I don’t trust women! sorry! oh boy! to think about the level, expertise and ruthlessness of their treachery gives me goosebumps!

      • There is no way Tejpal speaking the truth and I’ve been following the case from Day One. He is guilty as charged and he admitted to it in his first mail..been changing his statements so many times. The truth is out when he admitted to wanting sexual liaison and the girl refused. There is no way the girl could have filmed him and there is always the fear. The case is clear and not fishy, sorry. She is the victim and I laud the courage for taking on the powerful Tejpal. The whole thing is against him and now that the girl spoke, others are following suit which is a very good thing. Even Tejpal’s daughter urged her to go ahead and four people already resigned at Tehelka and do google his statements and you will find the truth.

      • well, I will wait and see. by the way, emails are hardly proof enough, they can be tampered, or your account can be hacked and emails sent from there, if you are dead drunk you may not even be aware of your own activities during the night…

        if he is guilty I think his enemies will assure (they are quite powerful and hefty in no) that he is punished!

        it takes quite a lot to convince me about a person unless of course I see him/her in action! sorry, you are yet to know the type of people that throng my world, and I hope you will never see them anywhere near you, if you did, you would have become really slow in case of judgment making.

        when I was more inexperienced I too used to allow my heart take the decisions not brain, now I bitterly regret one too many of them…

        time may tell the truth my dear friend! patience is virtue.

    • Hey Zinal, it’s absolutely ridiculous for him to atone his sins for six months and the guy is such a pain now with him playing victim and silly attempt to politicize the whole issue. I see no difference between him and Asaram, now. I was aghast with the six months thing with him and Shoma playing judges. They have done everything to destroy brand Tehelka.

      • Remember Shoaib Illiasi of India’s Most wanted, and how he was accused(not sure if convicted) of murdering his own wife. It makes me think what makes people commit those very crimes that they were trying to fight against or voice an opinion against. It has happened several times before, people are not able to practice what they preach. Wonder if that is the result of thinking crime all day, day in and day out, that makes them do such things? The very people who you expect to be guardians, go ahead and get involved in crimes. Do you suppose being surrounded by crime stories and crime news all day, does that to their psyche?

      • Ya! He has not been convicted of the murder and it’s a tragedy that such people guilty of mental torture and harassment are free. Like in Arushi case, I am not sure whether there will be closure as the botched up investigation leaves room for doubt. What bugs me is how all kind of allegations has been leveled against the child.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s