The trial against Tarun Tejpal, the former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka magazine began today in a Goa court. Tejpal is accused of raping his junior colleague in a lift of a Goa hotel, back in November 2013, during an event which was organised by Tehelka.
The trial incidentally was supposed to be carried out from 26th February to 1st March but was postponed owing to Tejpal’s claim that he had changed his lawyer.
As per the public prosecutor Fransisco Tavora, charges of “sexual harassment”, “assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to disrobe”, “wrongful restraint” and “rape” have been filed against Tejpal. This trial comes after a trial court in Goa’s Mapusa charged Tejpal with the aforementioned charges on 28th September, 2017.
Tejpal has pleaded “not guilty” to these charges. At the start of the trial too, Tejpal decided to brazen things by claiming that “truth will prevail”.
A video of Tejpal entering the courtroom was tweeted by Republic TV journalist Aditya Raj Kaul:
#BREAKING: Trial begins against Tarun Tejpal in the infamous Tehelka Rape Case at Mapusa Court of Goa after four long years. Victim inside court to record her statement as Witness No. 1. Tarun Tejpal also arrives inside court. Family asked to leave. Trial inside Judge’s court. pic.twitter.com/3WKx2rfKxe
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) March 15, 2018
As per Kaul, the Rape survivor spoke to him to state that fighting patriarchy, sexual violence and harassment should be a cornerstone of progressive politics. She also blasted Tejpal’s supporters who have called for him to be forgiven as the “liberal cause needs him”.
This includes a Mid Day column, urging media persons who were voicing their views against Tejpal, to rethink their stand, since in the day and age of ‘rising intolerance’ a ‘liberal voice’ was the need of the hour. One Outlook article by Manu Joseph actually sought to “raise questions” over the whole incident.
Tejpal after the allegations surfaced against him, was also invited at a literary festival as a guest speaker, which for many was an attempt to “rehabilitate him”. Later Bachi Karkaria, organiser of the literary festival, announced on Twitter that Tejpal had been asked not to attend because the festival did not want “extraneous noise.” Incidentally the same Bachi Karkaria had written an editorial in TOI where she brazenly defended Tejpal.