Tejpal in soup, scribe’s charges serious

Vikram Jit Singh

Chandigarh:┬á┬áThe lady journalist who is at the centre of the storm over Tehelka Editor-in-Chief Tarun Tejpal’s recusal from his duties for six months has charged him with sexually assaulting her twice, during the evenings of November 7 and 8 at a Goa hotel after she and Tejpal had escorted legendary Hollywood actor, Robert DeNiro and his daughter, Drena, to their room.
Though the sexual details contained in the emailed complaint to Tehelka’s Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhury, are too lurid for publication, they clearly establish forced oral sex and disrobing of the lady in the elevator by Tejpal during the recent Tehelka `Think Fest’.

┬á“As we made our way out of the elevator of Block 7 at the Grand Hyatt (on November 7), Mr. Tejpal held my arm and pulled me back into the lift. He said ÔÇô `LetÔÇÖs go wake up BobÔÇØ (Mr. De Niro) and I asked him why he wanted to do that. I then realised that Mr. Tejpal was simply pressing buttons on the liftÔÇÖs panel to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open.┬áAt this point, he began to kiss me ÔÇö from the first moment of his doing so, I asked him to stop, citing several reasons, including my friendship to Tiya, my closeness to his family, the fact that he had known me since I was a child, the fact that I worked for Tehelka and for Shoma Chaudhury ÔÇô who is my managing editor and mentor. It was like talking to a deaf person. Mr Tejpal lifted my dress up….I became scared and pushed him hard and asked him to stop the lift. He would not listen. The lift stopped on the ground floor as Mr TejpalÔÇÖs hands were on me and could not press the button for yet another floor to keep it in circuit. As soon as the doors opened, I picked up my underwear and began walking out of the elevator rapidly – he was still following me, asking me ┬áwhat the matter was,” the emailed complaint stated.

The next day, the lady journalist was asked to accompany the DeNiros, Tejpal’s wife, Geethan, VS Naipaul and his wife to the Goa Governor’s house for lunch. In the evening, again taking the pretext of meeting the DeNiros in their hotel room, Tejpal assaulted the journalist in the elevator. “As I was walking into the Grand Club at Block 7, Mr Tejpal was coming out of the lounge. He pointed at me asking me to stop. I was already worried that I was late and that Mr De Niro had asked for me. Mr Tejpal came to me and said, `Come up with me, we have to get something from BobÔÇÖs (DeNiro) room’. I was frightened that this would lead to a repeat of the previous night and so I said, ÔÇ£What does he need? IÔÇÖll go get it.ÔÇØ I was scared of getting into the lift with him again, and more terrified that he was going to try and take me into a room this time. By this time he was holding me by the wrist and had taken me into the lift (which is barely a few steps away from the lobby of block 7 where he had asked me to wait). When the doors closed, he started to try and kiss me again. I said ÔÇ£Tarun, please, no, just stop,ÔÇØ he pulled away, smiled, patted my cheek and said ÔÇ£Why? Ok. IÔÇÖll stop.ÔÇØ I said again ÔÇ£This just isnÔÇÖt right. Tiya (Tejpal’s daughter) is my best friend. I had lunch with Geetan today, ” the email stated.

The lady journalist contends in the email that she informed four of her journalist colleagues at Tehelka accompanying her to the Think Fest about the assaults and also contacted her boyfriend. The victim then confessed the crimes against her to Tejpal’s daugher, Tiya, who confronted her father and asked him to keep off the lady. An enraged Tejpal then sent a series of text messages to the lady, claiming that it had been just “drunken banter”.
Some of the texts exchanged between Tejpal and the lady journalist reproduced in the email are:

Tejpal: ┬áÔÇ£I hope you told Tiya that it was just drunken banter, and nothing elseÔÇØ (Tejpal to the lady)

The lady’s reply: ÔÇ£I told her we were both drunkÔÇØ ÔÇô because it was true that everyone had had a few drinks on the first night. But not the second, when he assaulted me minutes after I had reached the Grand Hyatt. However, this was the first time Mr Tejpal had said anything to me after lashing out at me the previous night, and I was still very afraid of him.

Tejpal then sent the lady another message:┬áÔÇ£And just banter, nothing elseÔÇØ . To which the lady says she did not reply, because there was no way what he had done to me could have been described as ÔÇ£banterÔÇØ.

The email states: “Sensing that I had clammed up at his attempt to sugar-coat what really happened, he sent me a third message:┬áÔÇ£Why?? WhatÔÇÖs happened??ÔÇØ
I did not reply to this message. Within minutes, he sent me a fourth message, one that convinced me he saw absolutely nothing wrong with what he had done, and was in fact now trying to shame me for talking to Tiya:┬áÔÇ£I canÔÇÖt believe u went and mentioned even the smallest thing to her. What an absence of any understanding of a parent child relationship.ÔÇØ

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