A three-member Goa Police team returned on Sunday without questioning Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal, who is accused of sexually assaulting a junior colleague at an event in Goa earlier this month.
“We have not established contact with Tarun Tejpal yet,” deputy inspector general of police OP Mishra said at a press conference at the police headquarters in Panaji.
The cops, however, examined Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and three other employees who the woman journalist spoke to soon after allegedly being sexually assaulted by Tejpal.
The police also did not rule out the possibility of pressing additional charges against Tejpal. “…If additional charges are required, they will be added according to the development in the course of action,” Mishra said. “They have also taken relevant documents in possession and some electronic items,” he added.
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The National Commission for Women (NCW), meanwhile, asked the Mumbai police to ensure security of the woman journalist. The move comes following a statement issued by the woman, who is based in Mumbai, that she fears “intimidation and harassment” as Tejpal’s family is putting pressure on her family.
“NCW is concerned following the statement and have spoken to Mumbai police chief Himanshu Roy to ensure the girl’s security,” said NCW member Nirmala Samant. She said the Mumbai police have assured her to provide all necessary protection to the woman in case she approaches them. “NCW is there to ensure her safety and security,” she said.
“Yesterday (Saturday), at the Tehelka office, the Goa Police took my deposition for about 9 hours, it was extremely courteous experience and I fully cooperated and showed every document that was relevant, every email exchange that was there between my colleagues, the management, it was shared, it was a good experience and I hope it helps bring clarity and justice to the entire case,” Chaudhury said.
Tejpal’s troubles mounted on Saturday as the colleague who has accused him of sexual assault revealed that a family member of the Tehelka founder-editor had visited her mother, and said she feared further intimidation and harassment. The Goa Police, which has registered a case of rape against the 50-year-old, conducted a search-and-seize operation at the publication’s office on Saturday.
“On the night of November 22, 2013, a member of Mr Tejpal’s immediate family came to my mother’s house in New Delhi, asking my mother to protect Mr Tejpal,” the journalist said in a statement released to the media. She said the visitor “demanded to know who I was seeking legal help from” and “what I ‘wanted’ as the result of my complaint”.
“This visit has placed tremendous emotional pressure on my family and I at an intensely traumatic time. I fear this may be the beginning of… further intimidation and harassment,” she said. “I call upon all persons connected to Mr Tejpal and his associates to refrain from approaching me or my family members.”
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The Tehelka editor-in-chief, who was locked in lengthy meetings with lawyers on Saturday, is understood to be contemplating moving the court to get the probe transferred from the Goa Police to an independent investigating agency, sources said. Media reports had earlier quoted him as saying that the victim was lying and that he was being framed. “Political forces are driving much of it,” he alleged.
A joint team of the Goa and Delhi Police had on Saturday took Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury’s statement at her south Delhi residence and took away laptops, iPads and hard disk drives from the magazine’s GK office. Chaudhury, who was questioned for three hours, later said, “I have given all information demanded of me. We are cooperating to the best of our ability.”