Tehelka's Shoma Chaudhury quits over sex assault controversy
- 28 November 2013
- From the section India
The managing editor of a top Indian magazine has resigned days after her boss was accused of sexually assaulting a female colleague.
Shoma Chaudhury of Tehelka magazine said it was a "damaging time" for the publication after the allegations involving its editor, Tarun Tejpal.
Mr Tejpal stepped down from his position at Tehelka last week and is the subject of a police investigation.
Ms Chaudhury is the sixth journalist to quit the magazine amid the controversy.
The alleged incident happened earlier this month in Goa where the magazine held an annual conclave attended by newsmakers and celebrities from around the world.
Standing aside last week, Mr Tejpal said a lapse of judgement and a misreading of the situation "led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for".
The woman has said what took place was of a much more serious nature than that, but exactly what happened is unclear.
Mr Tejpal has been summoned to appear before police in Goa for questioning on Thursday after his female colleague began co-operating with the police inquiry. He has not been charged.
The scandal has been dominating headlines in India, with critics accusing the magazine - one of India's top of investigative titles - of hypocrisy and double standards.
As well as Ms Chaudhury and the woman at the centre of the claims, four other journalists have now quit the magazine in the past week, amid anger over the way it has handled the allegations.
Its initial response was to temporarily remove Mr Tejpal from the editorship and to set up a committee to investigate the incident.
Ms Chaudhury has insisted the decision was in keeping with the wishes of the young journalist who made the allegation.
But Ms Chaudhury now says she is resigning from her post as she does not want "questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka".
"I would have liked to continue at Tehelka to see us through this dark time, but I am no longer sure whether my presence is harming or helping Tehelka. I deeply regret any inadequacies or lack of clarity I may have displayed in my leadership," she said in her resignation letter early on Thursday.
Ms Chaudhury said since the "devastating allegation" was first brought to her notice on 18 November, she had taken a "series of actions in response to this complaint", including the setting up of an anti-sexual harassment committee.
"There were only two days to act on the complaint before the story broke in the press. Post this, things have been misconstrued and have snowballed exponentially in the media, based on half-facts and selective leaks."
Ms Chaudhury said she had been accused of attempting to cover up the incident and for "not standing by my feminist positions".
"While I accept that I could have done many things differently and in a more measured way, I reject the allegations of a cover-up because in no way could the first actions that were taken be deemed suppression of any kind. As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague's account precedence over everything else," she wrote.
Police in Goa launched their investigation last week after the allegations against Mr Tejpal came to light in an email Ms Chaudhury sent to Tehelka staff.
A court in Delhi is to decide on Friday whether to grant him bail. Under Indian law, an individual can seek pre-trial bail in anticipation of a possible arrest.