Delhi : The Indian Journalists Union (IJU), the premier organisation of the working journalists in the country is shocked by the alleged sexual assault of a young lady journalist by Tehelka founder-Editor-in-Chief, Tarun Tejpal.
In a statement issued here, President S N Sinha and Secretary-General D Amar said they were greatly disappointed with the magazine’s response and in particular with its Managing editor, Ms Shoma Chaudhury whose attitude thus far seems more to protect her Editor and Publication than help the young victim.
The IJU condemns the boorish behavior of the Tarun Tejpal in taking advantage of his superior position in the organization to make sexual advances towards a junior woman journalist colleague, seek sexual favours from her if she had to retain her job, to sexually harass and intimidate her and to outrage her modesty. His supposed penance in “recusing” himself from editorship of the magazine for six months after the victim had exposed his criminal conduct cannot be considered as anything but a diversionary tactic. There is no basis at all for the magazine to consider it as just a case of misconduct by a senior colleague/employer. The criminal conduct that has brought shame to the entire profession is, of course, a misconduct but it is also a criminal act under the country’s penal law. And let it be emphasized that it is not only a cognizable but also a non-bailable and non-compoundable offence. The Goa police have done the right thing in registering an FIR of the case. It must now try to investigate it speedily, bring the culprit to book and ensure that he meets the desserts he deserves.
The IJU feels that the media which is the vanguard in identifying and highlighting wrongdoing needs to introspect and pursue its own perpetrators with equal zeal. Or else the credibility of media as an institution or the fourth estate itself will be deeply impacted.
At the same time, IJU’s Treasurer and IFJ Gender Council Steering Committee member, Sabina Inderjit urged media houses to ensure that they set up sexual harassment committees on the lines suggested by the Supreme Court, to ensure that young women journalists, whose numbers are increasing, can pursue their careers without fear of having to face such humiliation, both inside and outside the institutions.
The IJU also takes this opportunity to reiterate its consistent position that every media management must put in place foolproof arrangements to ensure full security to its women employees against all forms of violence and criminal misconduct. We also pledge our full support to the young victim and country’s youth in the ongoing national crusade against anti-women crime.