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Journalists criticise Tejpal’s defence in rape trial


Panaji, Feb 19:

Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal’s likening of his rape trial to a secular versus communal battle has been criticised by his journalistic peers on Twitter.

Tarun Tejpal
Tarun Tejpal

Tejpal, without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Monday said in his statement that the “motivated” trial against him was akin to an attack on “Indian pluralism by communal forces”.

He also warned that the alleged political crusade against him was a “a warning shot across the bows of all liberals and opponents of communal politics”.

Former senior editor at Caravan magazine Jonathan Shanin termed Tejpal’s stance a “disgusting defence”.

Surprised over Tejpal’s effort to give his case a “political” colour, Sagarika Ghose, a news anchor at CNN-IBN, questioned whether the disgraced editor would get justice in a Congress-ruled state.

Taking a jibe at Tejpal, former journalist and political commentator Swapan Dasgupta tweeted: “Is Tarun Tejpal suggesting that foisting yourself on an unwilling woman is a feature of ‘dissent’ & the fight against ‘fascism’?”

Tejpal’s statement, his first formal reaction since his arrest 80 days ago, comes on the heels of two days of hectic activity which saw formal sexual assault charges being slapped against the Tehelka founder-editor and his bail plea postponed by the Bombay High Court until March 4.

Tejpal in his statement said: “This is a warning shot across the bows of all liberals and opponents of communal politics.”

“It’s a crying shame that a major party that is bidding to rule the great pluralism that is India is imbued with no tolerance of dissenters and critics, of whom I certainly am one.”

“I’m afraid what we are witnessing here is an early sign of the inherent fascism of the right wing that will target its detractors in the most sinister and underhand ways, using all the government machinery at its disposal,” he said.

Earlier, Tejpal had accused Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar for his travails.

A junior colleague has accused Tejpal of alleged rape during ThinkFest, a high-profile conference organised by the Tehelka founder in Goa. The victim has claimed that she was sexually assaulted twice Nov 7 and 8.

After a brisk investigation, Crime Branch of Goa Police charged Tejpal under Sections 354, 354-A (sexual harassment), 341 and 342 (wrongful restrain), 376 (rape), 376(2)(f) and 376 (2)(k) (takes advantage of his official position and commits rape in his custody).