New Delhi: Managing Editor of Tehelka Shoma Chaudhury resigned on Thursday a week after its Editor Tarun Tejpal was exposed as having allegedly sexually assaulting a woman journalist colleague.
Chaudhury`s resignation early this morning comes as Goa police appeared to be closing in on Tejpal who has to appear before it by 3 pm today and speculation that she may also be named in the FIR for certain acts of commission and omission after the alleged offence became public.
"Over the past week, I have been accused of an attempt to cover-up and for not standing by my feminist positions. While I accept that I could have done many things differently and in a more measured way, I reject the allegations of a cover-up because in no way could the first actions that were taken be deemed suppression of any kind.
"As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague`s account precedence over everything else," Chaudhury said in her resignation letter.
"However, despite this, as a result of what`s transpired over the past few days, my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognisance of this.
"I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka, which it has done in the past week.
"Therefore, I resign as Managing Editor with immediate effect," Chaudhury said. Ever since the scandal became public Chaudhury, a share holder in Tehelka and associated companies started by Tejpal, was accused of cover up and not taking proper action the case demanded.
Initially, Chaudhury sought to portray it as an internal matter and was more interested in getting an apology from Tejpal to the victim rather than reporting it to police because of the nature of the cognisable offence. Later, she tried to set up an internal complaints committee with Urvashi Butalia, a friend of Tejpal, as its head.
The committee never took off and Butalia also refused to be part of it. Meanwhile, a number of editors resigned from the magazine accusing Chaudhury of not doing justice to the victim and being interested only in protecting Tejpal.
Tejpal, who failed to get any immediate relief on his anticipatory bail petition in the Delhi High Court, was yesterday summoned by the Goa police to appear before it in connection with the probe in the case.
DIG of Police O P Mishra refused to discuss their strategy if he does not turn up before the Investigating Officer.
The police may issue a non-bailable warrant against Tejpal if he does not appear before the IO or prolong the questioning till Delhi High Court comes out with its order on his anticipatory bail plea on Friday, experts say.
The police move also came on a day the victim, a former journalist of Tehelka, who was allegedly sexually assaulted in a lift in a five-star hotel in Goa earlier this month, arrived here and recorded her statement under Section 164 of CrPC before a local court.
The statement of the victim under section 164 CrPC is being recorded in a local court here. The process is still on, said Mishra.
Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had yesterday dismissed Tejpal`s accusations that the BJP government in the state was pursuing vendetta against him because of the sting operation conducted by his organisation that unseated party President Bangaru Laxman and other issues.