Journalist Tarun Tejpal's stepping aside as editor-in-chief of the weekly Tehelka magazine is one headline that has shocked a set of people used to scandals: journalists.
Tejpal wrote to Shoma Chaudhury, Tehelka’s managing editor, admitting "misconduct" which he said he must atone for by 'offering' to stop working for six months.
“A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident…” wrote Tejpal in the email to Chaudhury.
“I feel atonement cannot be just words… I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka… for the next six months.”
Tejpal's email spread across social media, where many journalists expressed outrage at the tone of his "atonement" email. Some alleged that he had been let off so easily and was going on a “six-month holiday.”
Links to an email allegedly written by the woman journalist Tejpal is alleged to have harassed soon started being shared on Facebook and Twitter. Hindustan Times cannot confirm the veracity of this email, which was allegedly addressed to Chaudhury and accuses Tejpal of sexual harassment during Tehelka's THiNK Festival in Goa held early in November.
The tweets were so numerous that by Wednesday midnight #Tejpal, Tarun Tejpal, #Tehelka, NCW and Goa were trending on Twitter.
Many journalists took to Twitter to express their anger and shock. Sagarika Ghose, the deputy editor at CNN-IBN, tweeted "Deeply shocked, saddened, horrified at what happened at Tehelka. Tarun's been a friend for years, suddenly seems like a stranger.. why, Tarun?"
Appreciating the support that poured in through Twitter, Sachin Kalbag, Executive Editor at Mid Day, tweeted "Heartening to see a wave of support for the Tehelka journalist who was sexually assaulted by her editor. Hope she complains."
NDTV's editorial director, Sonia Singh, tweeted "The Tehelka woman journalist who has been sexually assaulted needs all r support. We cant be hypocrites about this,thr must be strong action" (sic)
Jonathan Shainin, news editor at The New Yorker, also tweeted "Speculating about what the woman assaulted by Tejpal should have done, and when, is nothing but very ugly concern trolling. Don't do it."
Here are some more tweets from the journalism fraternity:
Siddharth Varadarajan, former editor at The Hindu
Rasheed Kidwai, associate editor at The Telegraph
Rukmini S, The Hindu journalist
Gaurav Kalra, Sports Editor at CNN-IBN
Following demands of action by women groups Kavita Krishnan, secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, tweeted "Why 'penance' from Tehelka's Tarun Tejpal?! Instead why not a sexual harassment com acc Vishakha, proper enquiry, appropriate punishment?"
"Do Tehelka & other media think they aren't workplaces? Why isn't Vishakha, Sexual Harassment law followed there?! Why this bosh re penance?" she added. (sic)
Journalists weren't the only ones who tweeted about the incident. Lyricist and music composer Javed Akhtar also tweeted about the incident.
However, his tweet was widely criticised for supporting Tejpal.
Here are some other prominent names who tweeted about the incident:
Sonia Faleiro, Writer
Kiran Bedi, Former Cop
Karuna Nundy, Supreme Court Lawyer
Nilanjana Roy, Author
Raju Narisetti, senior vice president, strategy at NewsCorp