Indian magazine editor charged with sexual assault

KRISHNA N DAS
Last updated 11:42 01/12/2013
Tarun Tejpal
Tarun Tejpal, the 50-year-old founder and editor-in-chief of India's leading investigative magazine Tehelka, has been charged with sexual assault.

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Police have arrested the editor-in-chief of an Indian magazine over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman colleague, in a case that has turned the focus back on sexual violence after the fatal gang rape of a woman last year.

The journalist told a superior that Tarun Tejpal, 50-year-old founder of the award-winning weekly Tehelka, had assaulted her twice in a hotel elevator during a conference in the resort state of Goa this month.

The investigation into Tejpal, who denies the accusations, has dominated headlines in India for 10 days as news outlets follow every twist and turn, and follows similar accusations by an intern against a retired Supreme Court judge.

"He (Tejpal) has formally been arrested and will be produced before a designated court within 24 hours," Dr. O.P. Mishra, Goa's deputy inspector general of police, told Reuters.

Police have studied closed-circuit video footage from the hotel to establish what happened, but there were no cameras in the elevators, a spokeswoman for Goa's chief minister said last week.

In a leaked email to the magazine's management, Tejpal said that an "unfortunate incident" had occurred between himself and the journalist, describing it as "a bad lapse of judgment".

The case has triggered a media debate about silence over the harassment of women at their places of work.

It is also seen as a test of a tougher law on crimes against women that was adopted after a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on a moving bus in Delhi last year, beaten and then pushed out onto the street along with her male companion.

She died two weeks later amid an outpouring of anger across India. Four men were sentenced to death while a teenager was sentenced to juvenile custody.

India's working women often face sexual harassment from colleagues, managers or employers, yet few report these cases, fearful of losing their jobs or facing persecution simply for speaking out, gender rights activists say.

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- Reuters

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