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Goa Police questions Shoma; woman journo says Tejpal kin pressuring her

Tarun Tejpal’s troubles mounted 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. Timeline: how the tehelka unfolded

india Updated: Nov 24, 2013 12:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Tehelka Sexual Assault Case,Tarun Tejpal,Tehelka sex scandal

Tarun 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 Tehelka journalist alleged a member of Tarun Tejpal’s family had visited her mother’s house on Friday night to ask her mother to protect Tejpal.

“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.”

READ: Timeline of how the tehelka unfolded for Tejpal

The young woman had earlier told her friends that she was reluctant to file a police complaint over concerns that she might not be able to match legal resources at the editor’s disposal.

Meanwhile, a team of Goa police officials arrived at the Tehelka’s Delhi office on Saturday evening and questioned its managing editor Shoma Chaudhury and some other employees of the magazine also.

The three-member Goa police team led by deputy superintendent of police Sammy Tavares questioned the staff.

Later, the team, which also includes Sunita Sawant who is the Investigating Officer in the case, also recorded the statements of Chaudhury and the other Tehelka employees questioned, PTI reported.

READ: Closer look at Tehelka throws up more questions than answers

A team of Delhi Police, including additional commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav, was also present at the Tehelka office at the time of the questioning to provide logistic support to the Goa police

The Goa police Crime Branch team, which arrived here at around noon, is trying to collect e-mails exchanged between Tejpal and Chaudhury and the complaint of the girl to the magazine's management.

Tejpal is likely to be questioned later, a police official said and did not rule out his arrest.

Chaudhury, the first to meet the police, told reporters earlier in the day that she provided all the information and documents sought by them.

“I even talked to them regarding any more help needed from my side,” Chaudhury said, refuting media reports that said she was not cooperating with the investigation.

Initially, she maintained it was not for her to go to the police, and that it was the young woman journalist's right to decide how to proceed in the case.

“The information to the media is wrong. I have sent a mail to the police. There is a lot of wrong information that is floating around. I cannot possibly be giving any evidence. I am cooperating with the Delhi Police,” she said.

The reporter has also been informed that she might be required to talk to the team, the police said.

In a possible setback to the investigation, Goa police discovered that CCTV cameras were not installed in the hotel elevator where Tejpal is alleged to have assaulted his junior colleague twice—on November 7 and 8.

READ: No CCTV footage found from lift; hotel authorities plead ignorance

The issue became public on Wednesday when internal emails of Tejpal, Chaudhury and the victim were leaked.

Tejpal in a statement released on Friday requested investigators to “examine and release the CCTV footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed”.

Goa Police on Friday filed an FIR against Tejpal under Sections 376 (rape), 376 (2) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty) of Indian Penal Code.

The Tehelka editor-in-chief, 50, faces a sentence ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment if found guilty.

READ: Experts allege lapses in Tehelka governance

Reports, however, said CCTV footage from outside the elevator does show the victim leaving the elevator “in a hurry” on one occasion.

It was learnt that several staffers were contemplating quitting their jobs following the episode.

Revati Laul, a former Tehelka employee and the reporter’s friend who quit immediately after the issue became public, told a news channel that Chaudhury’s behavior indicated that she was "firmly on the side of Tejpal".

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READ: BJP accuses Cong of going soft on Tehelka editor-in-chief
READ: Taj literary festival organisers strike Tejpal off list of invitees

First Published: Nov 23, 2013 19:54 IST