A day after jail authorities clamped down on Tehelka co-founder Tarun Tejpal’s family visits, access to the jail canteen and making outstation calls, he wrote to the superintendent alleging unfair treatment and claiming he was being threatened following Sunday’s inspection.
On Sunday, the authorities of the Sada sub-jail in Vasco seized seven phones from inmates. One was found in a cell Tejpal was sharing with six others. Privileges of Tejpal — who has been charged with rape — and two others were suspended on Tuesday.
In the letter addressed to superintendent Gaurish Shankwalkar, Tejpal denied the phone was his. “As I asserted to you categorically on Sunday in the presence of other jail officials, I had nothing to do with the phone set,” he wrote. “You had then asked me to name the person responsible for bringing in a mobile and I had said it was not for me to implicate any of the inmates...”
Tejpal also said he was being threatened by other inmates since the raid party had told inmates that the raid was due to his presence. “To me it seems of a piece with the way my case has been maneuvered and appears directly connected to my bail application that falls due soon,” he said. Shankwalkar claimed he has not yet received any letter from Tejpal.
Last month, the investigating officer had filed a complaint against Tejpal on grounds of intimidation. Tejpal had denied the charges. His bail plea is to be heard by the high court on March 4.
Full text of Tejpal's letter to the superintendent
25th February 2014
Dear Mr.Shankhwalkar,I received a copy of your note, late last night curtailing my privileges - or are they rights? - to receive weekly visits from my family, make STD calls and requisition items from the jail canteen.
The cause of this as indicated by your note was "for using prohibited articles in jail". By this I presume an assumption on your part that the mobile phone found in cell no.14 was either mine or had been used by me too. As I asserted to you categorically on Sunday in the presence of other jail officials that I had nothing to do with the phone set. It was neither mine nor had been procured or brought into the cell by me. You had then asked me to name the person responsible for bringing in a mobile and I had said it was not for me to implicate any of the inmates - many of whom are already suffering inhumanly long incarcerations without bail or conclusion of trials.
To me it seems of a piece with the way my case has been maneuvered and appears directly connected to my bail application that falls due soon.
At the time of my first bail application a totally false complaint of intimidation was filed against me on the basis of my daughter visiting the alleged "victims" mother for which the "victim" had thanked my daughter in writing! At the time of my second bail application, the IO (Investigating Officer) filed a totally false report that I had intimidated her whilst in police custody - whereas I had, without a murmur cooperated with the police in everything they asked - from handing over hardware and data to undertaking endless medical and psychological tests and interrogations by several officers. My next bail application in the high court was derailed at the 11th hour by a hurried overnight filing of the charge sheet, which surprised the judge too. Come as it did without prior information. Of course the undue haste shows in the charge sheet where apart from other errors the glaring blunder is the naming of the victim in page after page. I wonder how the police can make exhortations of protecting of identity having made such a terrible blunder themselves. And now that my postponed bail hearing is coming up again, one can see the fresh manipulation taking shape.
Meantime I wish to put it on record that because your search and raid party told many inmates that this unprecedented raid with a large police staff drawn from various quarters outside of the jail was due to my presence - I have been issued several threats and the inmates in my cell have been threatened too. I also wish to put on record that so far in my time in this prison, in all things, the jail staff has been courteous and helpful. And I on my part have adhered to all they have asked of me. So this is no general complaint against the prison but merely about the episode where an attempt is being made to insinuate something that is not true. And to deny me the basic facilities of STD usage and family visits.
I reiterate once again that none of the many phones seized from the jail are mine nor have I had any hand in bringing them in. Given this fact I urge you to rescind your note suspending my STD and family visits and make the facts clear to the public.
P.S. - I request a copy of this letter be notified and sent to all concerned authorities, including the courts and my lawyers to avoid any prejudice.