Tarun Tejpal: Tehelka’s Dirty Old Man?

by Sonal Bhadoria , IndiaTimes | November 26, 2013, 3:34 pm IST

Tarun Tejpal is a 50 year old man. Although Bollywood’s Khan brigade has made us believe otherwise, one can safely assume that at this age, a person can be seen showing signs of ageing. Memory losses or lapses is one telling sign, we believe and Tarun Tejpal is showing it all in his shameless glory.What else can explain his ever changing description of the sexual assault that has rocked India.

Tarun Tejpal

Firstly, let us acknowledge the victim first, something we wish Tehelka’s Managing Editor should have done too. She has maintained, right from day one, that she was sexually molested by Tarun Tejpal during Tehelka’s Think festival in Goa . Sexual assault and sexual molestation are the only words she used, although in our opinion rape should be a better word.

On the other hand, Tarun Tejpal has been dilly dallying with a range of phrases to describe his shameless actions against the victim.

In a personal letter of “apology” to the victim, he used the following terms to describe the incident.

shameful lapse of judgment
sexual liaison
my colossal lapse
a moment of insanity
this unconscionable lapse

In a letter to Shoma Chaudhury, with the abhorrently pathetic subject line-Atonement , Tejpal used the following words.

A bad lapse of judgment
an awful misreading of the situation
an unfortunate incident
my misconduct

And since we have mentioned Shoma , a self branded feminist whose actions make us wonder whether she is championing a new brand of convenient feminism that finds it easy to write about women’s rights and rapes and so on, but chooses to stand by an arrogant employer than an aggrieved girl when the time comes. In a letter to Tehelka’s staff, Shoma termed the sexual assault as

an untoward incident
a mistake or lapse of any kind

And here is the latest. In his bail plea, Tarun Tejpal has gone ahead and done what perpetrators of rape and sexual assault often do-character assassination of the victim. Oh, and this time he used time he used the term-

light-hearted bantering
a moment of privacy between the two individuals

On the topic of the second sexual assault incident, the bail plea states-“On 08/11/2013 a further meeting took place between the two individuals but the same lasted for few seconds and no intimate moment was shared between the two individuals.”

So, Mr Tejpal, went from a sexual liaison to a light hearted bantering, all the while talking about the same incident. One must really wonder which dictionary Mr Tejpal has been using all his life to consider both these terms synonymous. His words have been changing, depending on the addressee. So while personally addressing to the victim, he acknowledges it as a sexual liaison, but when writing formal mails to Shoma and the authorities, it turns into bantering. One must compliment Mr Tejpal over his command over the English language though, the same which cannot be said about his integrity and character.

What perhaps Tarun Tejpal and even Shoma Chaudhury are not realizing is, that currently whatever both are doing is nothing short of harakiri. In no version, can their story have a happy ending. We know that social media is not a barometer to measure a society’s feedback, but currently, their public image seems to be at an all time low and the more they continue to stick to their versions of the incident, the more they will be publically derided. How they plan to come out of this mess, unscathed, is a wonder.

And in his version Tarun Tejpal, seems to have touched an all time low. In order to show that the “untoward incident” was consensual and the victim is lying, Tejpal has pointed fingers at the victim’s normal behavior after the first “lapse of judgment” and her decision to come forward with the story 10 days after the incident. In the bail plea Tejpal says even after the alleged incident as claimed by the victim, she “continued to party, was completely normal and friendly”. The bail petition questions the victim’s conduct by highlighting how she was at “every party and social event in the conference” and also stayed out late into the night.

What was the victim supposed to do? Run around with a distraught expression crying rape after receiving the shock of her life, where in a father figure sexually assaulted her? The victim had written in her letter to Shoma that she was thoroughly shaken after the first assault, but she composed herself to carry out the duties assigned to her, fearing for her job. Her side of the story, though leaked by social media, is still to have an official version.

But what she does not deserve is to be called a liar (by a fellow woman journalist) and aspersions been cast on her character for behaving normally after the assault. A person of her father’s age broke her trust twice and is now trying to save his name. A 50 year old, dirty man.

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