New Delhi: The BJP said on Thursday that the molestation act that Tehelka editor-in-chief Tarun Tejpal is accused of is tantamount to rape according to law and its criminality can`t be shielded.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi, addressing a press conference a day after Tejpal stepped down for six months over the incident, said: "In today`s amended definition, the doing of Tarun Tejpal is called rape."
"Sexual harassment is what has happened to the innocent girl."
Lekhi termed the "atonement" letter of Tejpal announcing he was recusing himself for six months as "immensely shocking".
"It states that six-months paid holiday has been granted to the editor-in-chief and the criminal action has been covered already by the sexual harassment committee of the organization... Criminality cannot be shielded in this action (stepping down for six months)," she said.
Lekhi also said she had learnt that Tehelka does not have a policy of preventing the sexual harassment of woman at the work place. "I want to know who are the members of the sexual harassment committee and if there are any outsiders in the committee," she asked.
She also demanded that both the National Commission for Women (NCW) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) need to probe the case. "Both NCW and the NHRC have maintained silence, they need to speak up."
Tejpal, in an email to Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhary said Wednesday: "A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that is against all we believe in and fight for. I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months."
Lekhi also said that the police needed to be involved to probe the incident "instead of keeping it confined to the walls of the organization".
Referring to the case of alleged stalking of a Bangalore woman by the Gujarat Police on the orders of former minister Amit Shah, she said: "I am on purpose drawing attention to ironical situations, in which two women are involved, where one woman is seeking anonymity and her reputation is maligned by those who seek political vendetta, and there are members from the media fraternity, who are violating the victim`s privacy.".
The case of alleged stalking of a Bangalore woman on the behest of "saheb", who is believed to be BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, has kicked up an ungly row with the Congress demanding thorough probe into the incident.