The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) and its Gender and Ethics Council, strongly condemn the vigilantism of some BJP workers led by Vijay Jolly. These self appointed custodians of morality arrived at Tehelka’s ex-Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhary’s residence and in full view of TV cameras Jolly painted the word ‘Accused’ on her nameplate, also painting a thick arrow pointing to her name. The fact is that Shoma Choudhary is not an accused in the case of sexual assault by Tehelka owner Tarun Tejpal on a young journalist.
Had it not been for the intervention of the the Delhi Police Shoma Choudhary would have been attacked by the mob of BJP workers led by Vijay Jolly. Vijay Jolly told the cameras that he was enraged at the way Choudhary had failed to protect the dignity of a woman, completely losing sight of the fact that he was outraging the dignity of another woman.
We hope the statement by Sushma Swaraj condemning the vigilantism of Vijay Jolly will be the template for the future.
The subsequent “apology” of Vijay Jolly for “hurting sentiments” has to be taken with a pinch of salt. The DUJ wishes to underline that this is not a matter of hurt sentiments but that of rowdyism, hooliganism and lumpenism. After the protest at Tehelka office, the needless attack on Choudhary’s residence was a cheap publicity stunt.
While not overlooking the inept handling of the complaint of sexual assault filed with her, Shoma Choudhary’s contribution to Indian Journalism and the cause of gender and class justice cannot be forgotten.
The DUJ also urges the media to curb its ‘over the top’ coverage of the issue, avoid sensationalism and desist from conducting a medial trial of Tejpal and Chaudhary. We note with dismay a TV anchor actually demanding that Tejpal appear on TV as he owes the ‘people of India’ an explanation. Even in the heat of the moment one must not lose sight of the citizen’s right to not answer questions raised by the media. .
The DUJ believes that the law should be allowed to take its course impartially, without excessive pressure from either the media or politicos.