Facing allegations of a cover-up in the alleged sexual assault of a woman colleague by Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal, its managing editor Shoma Chaudhury on Friday remained defiant, saying they would not approach the police with the complaint and even contended that he had a "different version".
Chaudhury, who throughout Thursday was saying that her main priority was addressing the grievance of the victim, today said when she confronted Tejpal about the matter "very very angrily", he had a different version.
She said it was for the victim to approach the police because the decision is hers.
"I do feel a sense of outrage and betrayal but he has a different version," she said, remarks that came under attack from activists, who said it amounted to character assassination of the victim.
She added, "Further to this he stepped down, because my sense was that regardless of differing versions, whether it was consensual or non consensual, as a leader of the institution he had transgressed and in addition to her, he had betrayed the faith of other journalists." With questions being raised over the way the magazine treated the incident in Goa as an internal issue, she, however, admitted to making some mistakes like claiming on behalf of the victim that she was satisfied with "action" against Tejpal.
Chaudhury had no answer to repeated questions why Tehelka did not report the matter to police and sought to make it an "internal" issue.
She replied that she was extremely focused on addressing the victim's plea for redressal and "forgot that there is a public world that I need to interface with. If I have had even ten minutes to compose myself I would have begun to act with greater measure."
However, she maintained that it was the girl's call to make it a police case or not.
"The right to go to police is hers (victim's). I am not going to the police on my own," Chaudhury said, adding she will cooperate in the probe as long as she is in the post. "If it is hard for me to cooperate, then I will step down," she said.
On Goa police charge that Tehelka is not cooperating, "It is a very difficult time for the magazine. If Goa government says we are not cooperating, there is no space or time to cooperate unless she (victim) goes to the police." She said when the girl approached her with her complaint she was not driven by vengeance. "She wanted to heal so I did not go to police".
At one stage she even said that the media was jumping to conclusion that it is a sexual assault and rape.