Tehelka’s response is inadequate and dishonest

no means noWe, the undersigned, express our deepest dismay at the manner in which the newsmagazine Tehelka has responded to the allegations of sexual harassment against its owner-editor, Tarun Tejpal. Tehelka has clearly chosen to downplay and trivialize an instance of extremely grave sexual assault and misuse of a position of power by Tejpal by calling it an “untoward incident”. Worse, the magazine’s editor chose to call it “an internal matter” but conducted no internal probe in consonance with the Vishakha guidelines against sexual harassment at workplaces.

The pious assertions of ‘atonement’, ‘laceration’ and ‘recusing’ are highly inadequate and dishonest as a response to this serious misconduct. In fact the attempt to paint himself as a martyr by stepping aside for six months has only aggravated Tejpal’s misconduct.

The announcement this evening of a possible enquiry committee to probe Tejpal’s conduct is belated and an afterthought – made only under pressure following the public outrage – whereas an impartial enquiry should have been set up right after the journalist complained to the Managing editor.

But beyond this one event, there are two things that we should note. First, the appalling lack of institutionalized mechanisms to deal with complaints of sexual violence in media houses, where senior editors enjoy great power over the careers of young journalists; and the salacious and unrestrained manner in which the social media has quoted from the complainant’s letter to the magazine’s editor, thereby disclosing her identity, whereas, greater sensitivity needed to be displayed.

We demand that Tarun Tejpal’s misconduct be subjected to independent scrutiny in accordance with Supreme Court guidelines followed by appropriate action. We also demand that media houses must mandatorily set up committees against sexual harassment to make workplaces safer for women employees.

Aliya, Women Connect
Apoorvanand, Academic
Asad Ashraf, Jamia Students Solidarity Forum
Bhasha, Senior Journalist
Bhawna Sharma, Anhad
Juhi Jain, Writer
Kumar Sundaram, Anti Nuke Activist
Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist
Manan Trivedi, Anhad
Manisha Sethi, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association
Mansi Sharma, Focus on the Global South
Meera Rizvi, Writer
Mohd Aamir Khan, Anhad
Puneet Sharma, Filmmaker
Purwa Bharadwaj, Women’s Rights Activist
Sania Hashmi, Anhad Media
Sanjay Kapoor, Hardnews
Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
Sheeba Aslam Fehmi, Women’s Rights Activist
Tajally Sheharyar, Jamia Students Solidarity Forum
Tariq Anwar, Jamia Students Solidarity Forum
Tarique Anwar,Daily Bhaskar
Vineet Tiwari, MPPWA
Wilfred D Costa, INSAF
Zakia Soman, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan


  1. ut you forget that women manipulate and use men too. It goes both ways…The best way out is for women to learn some defense skills, like karate, judo or something like that. You cannot sensitize the beast in humans when it decides to emerge. But you can fight it with your own strength and society will do very little for you besides hold discussions, TV talk shows etc…most of our people live in remote areas with no access to all that we are discussing so the problem will resurface. My difficulty is trying to understand why the girl could not SCREAM when the guy touched her…I doubt he had her mouth taped. In an office this is the best defense….scream out loud and everyone will come to your rescue. She also admitted she admired the man and looked up to him…a doting young girl
    can be misconstrued as someone who is interested in you. He could have very well misunderstood her admiration for him as an interest in him. That could happen to anyone. That he tried it a second time though puts him in a bad place. The first time should have enlightened him that she was not interested but she may not have protested strongly enough the first time as the sexual advance might have come as a shock to her resulting in her sort of semi complying out of embarrassment rather than agreement..well now he certainly knows! and not only Tarun knows but the the whole world knows that she was not interested in him sexually. There are young girls who fall in love with older men of big name or pop idols (more with their fame and money than the guy himself, take the instance of Woody Allen who drops his live in mate and moved in with his mate’s adopted daughter and she was only in her teens and he an old man…the girl was okay with it…not for us to judge really because if Tarun had not admitted to fondling this young journalist, then it would have been just her word against his. Now it’s a problem for him for being honest and having come out openly admitting the event but also stating clearly that he MISREAD her signals and NO ONE IN THIS BLOODY BLOOD THIRSTY MORAL MAJORITY OF A COUNTRY has the GRACE to allow him (after suffering the indignity of bad press and loss of reputation) that statement as having any truth to it, even though he has already HONESTLY admitted to the event!
    In my dealings with the citizens of my country, I’ve suffered more because of the wickedness and conniving of women than because of the men. I think Indian men in general are much tamer and more polite than men any where else in the world. But that’s my opinion and my experience and I’ve lived all over the world

  2. I wrote the above as I was unaware the incident was forced on the helpless girl trapped in an elevator. Also reports from colleagues of Tejpal say that he had hurt others and used his same “You will lose your job if you complain” tactic. In this case I retract what I said above as I was not aware of the details of the story. My heart goes out to this young girl who had to suffer such an indignity and I hope she gets the justice she hopes for while preserving her identity. I must in future read the details of an entire case before leaving my comments. It must have been TERRIFYING to have been cornered in a moving elevator with a drunken man behaving worse than an animal.