Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, who came under heavy criticism for trying to “cover up” the alleged charges of sexual assault leveled by a junior colleague against the magazine’s founding editor Tarun Tejpal, resigned on Thursday. Here's the full text of the resignation
letter Chaudhury mailed to Tehelka editorial staff:
This has been a damaging time for all associated with Tehelka. Since the devastating allegation was first brought to my notice on 18th November, I have taken a series of actions in response to this complaint. To my mind, I acted on instant outrage and solidarity for our colleague as a woman and co-worker.
After the first steps to immediately address her expressed needs, the process of setting up the anti-sexual harassment committee was begun. There were only two days to act on the complaint before the story broke in the press. Post this, things have been misconstrued and have snowballed exponentially in the media, based on half-facts and selective leaks. In the next stage, once the committee was formed, the law would have taken its course according to the findings and recommendations.
Over the past week, I have been accused of an attempt to “cover-up” and for not standing by my feminist positions. While I accept that I could have done many things differently and in a more measured way, I reject the allegations of a cover-up because in no way could the first actions that were taken be deemed suppression of any kind. As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague’s account precedence over everything else.
However, despite this, as a result of what's transpired over the past few days my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognizance of this.
I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka, which it has done in the past week. Therefore, I resign as Managing Editor with immediate effect.
There are many readers and colleagues who have believed in me and expressed their faith through this very difficult time. I am deeply grateful to them.
I will come in to office to close the issue and do the necessary handovers. I cannot express how painful this is for me. It has never been a part of me to give up midway through a challenge. I would have liked to continue at Tehelka to see us through this dark time, but I am no longer sure whether my presence is harming or helping Tehelka.
I deeply regret any inadequacies or lack of clarity I may have displayed in my leadership.
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