Tarun Tejpal remanded in six-day custody
Panaji: A Goa court Sunday sent Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal to six days in police custody for interrogation over charges of rape filed by a now former colleague.
Tejpal’s arrest late Saturday and his remand Sunday followed two weeks of drama after the woman colleague accused the veteran journalist of sexually molesting her in a Goa resort twice in November.
The Tehelka editor, whose weekly magazine is known for investigative journalism, looked drained in his slightly crumpled black suit when he was escorted to the court Sunday.
After arriving from Delhi, Tejpal spent Friday night in a suite with his immediate family at the Vivanta by Taj in Panaji - and the following night in a police lock-up in the same city.
The media was not allowed to enter Judicial Magistrate First Class Kshama Joshi's courtroom Sunday where she allowed the police the right to quiz Tejpal for six days in custody.
When police inspector Sunita Sawant, the investigating officer, questions Tejpal over six days, he will have to help police recreate the scene of crime. This could involve being taken to the same Grand Hyatt hotel near Panaji where the alleged incident took place.
Only weeks ago Tejpal escorted two cinematic legends -- Robert De Niro and Amitabh Bachchan -- around the same hotel, the venue for Thinkfest, a highbrow conference attended by global newsmakers and celebrities and organised by a company largely owned by Tejpal.
“He will be confronted about the conflict between his emails and media statements where he admits to a sexual liaison in the elevator Nov 7 and 8 and his subsequent rejection of the same,” a police officer said.
It was Tejpal’s email to Shoma Chaudhury, who last week resigned as the Tehelka managing editor, apologizing for his “misconduct” and announcing his recusal of editor-in-chief position for six months which nailed the story for Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Parrikar first announced a preliminary enquiry into the accusations of alleged rape because it had taken place in the state. Police filed a first information report, naming the Tehelka boss as the accused.
Parrikar rejected Tejpal’s contention -- and accusation from Congress leaders in New Delhi -- that the police under a BJP government in Goa had launched a vendetta against him.
“It was his guilty conscience which made Tejpal confess,” said Parrikar, adding the BJP had nothing to do with what transpired between Tejpal and the victim in the elevator -- nor the apologetic emails which followed.
Another end of the case which the police will be expected to tie up is whether Chaudhury deliberately tried to cover up the victim’s complaint by trying to hush up the matter and not reporting it to the police. She has denied the charge.
“We have recorded her statement. But there was a great deal of resistance. The computer hard disk we have seized from the Tehelka office could throw up more communication,” a police source said.
Police officers have said they will try to seek a confession from Tejpal.