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Tehelka: Move to shift probe from Goa cops

New Delhi, Nov 25 (): Tehelka magazine founder Tarun Tejpal, who has been accused of sexual assault by a young woman colleague in Goa earlier this month, is advised by his lawyers to move the High Court asking for the case to be transferred out of Goa, as he fears it may not get a fair trial there, sources said.

Tehelka hit the limelight with the sting operation conducted by then BJP president Laxman. The BJP ministry in Goa is said to be using the scandal to the fullest and the CM is directly pursuing the case. Tejpal has already hinted about a political force behind this incident.

According to legal experts, the CCTV footage outside the lift could only be a clincher as there were no cameras inside. The first sexual assault took place within the lift and by the girl’s admission she and Tejpal had a few drinks before it happened. Her version of having walked out of the lift carrying her panties and her being pulled inside the first time could have been recorded. She is said to have gone out of the lift crying.

The Goa police team left after quizzing Tehelka MD Samoa and three staffers to whom the victim confided soon after the incident took place. Police say that they might press more charges. The next round is to quiz Tejpal and move over to Mumbai to record the girl’s statement.

The victim has informed the National Commission for Women (NCW) requesting more time to compose herself before she talks to them. NCW has asked the Mumbai police to give protection to the girl but the latter has refused the offer.

The case could peter out as sources close to the victim say that in the email that she sent to Tehelka MD Shoma Chaudhury, she did not talk about a criminal action as she feared that it would start “mud-slinging”. She knew that as soon as the case takes a legal form it will be difficult to stop the character assassination and mud-slinging that would follow.

All that the victim wanted was an apology circulated to the staff and her complaint as well an internal probe as per the Vishaka guidelines. As the apology was a watered down version sent only to the victim with no probe, the matter went out of hand as the e-mails went public.

The police are hoping that the girl sticks to her version said in the email. The mood inside the Tehelka magazine newsroom is gloomy and there is uncertainty about the future.

Senior editors working with Tehelka have resigned and more would follow in the coming days.