The fury of the righteous – what happens when it turns on itself

The Tarun Tejpal affair is dominating the media during the current week, and the biggest anticipation is about when he will be arrested (he has reached Goa, and has got bail till the morning, so arrest after that is expected). It almost seems like a festival, except that it is a dead serious issue. The personal life of Tarun Tejpal is not up for question, but as soon as there is an attempt to make a relationship with force, without consent, things can get very tricky very soon. The affair burst onto the media attention just a few days back, with something as innocuous as an untoward incident caused by a lapse in judgment, happened, and as a result, Tarun is taking a 6 month break – and the pain of doing so is because he wants to atone for what happened. However, this statement, and the next few statements by the Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhury, apparently riled up the victim so much that she decided that her initial attempts to first seek a solution through Tehelka management were not working and there were attempts to put this under the carpet. So, she decided to make matters more explicit, and after that, events had to move in the manner in which they did.
The Goa police are taking action, but it seems like that they are going strictly by a step-by-step approach (if this was the UP police or the Bihar police, and somebody hostile to the state government and the party in power had done something like this, as soon as any such controversy broke, there would be a posse of lathi bearing policemen to arrest the person and put him behind bars) and building up the case in a way that it makes the case much stronger, and also allows Tarun Tejpal to sink further in the morass of public opinion, and also because of conflicting statements.

However, the interesting point about the whole affair is this phrase: “The pot calling the kettle back”. Apparently during the flight to Goa today, and also stated by many sympathizers and supporters, the problem here is that the media is out to get Tarun and Tehelka, and if they only let the law takes its own course, everything would be fun. Politicians making such a case can be understood (although not agreed with), but a media outlet such as Tehelka (or rather, it’s main representative) making such a statement is so ironical and hypocritical. Media outlets such as Tehelka with their investigative abilities and attempts to probe corruption or other governance issues are a necessity, but it is also true that such outlets have a holier-than-thou mode, their sense of righteousness comes right through. If this was happening to some other media outlet, Tehelka would be all over the whole issue, marking stories that demand justice, tweets that demand that such people be removed from office and arrested and so on, and so it seems so shameful that such an alleged assault / rape could be committed and when the journalist in question asked for help, the managing editor of the magazine tried to hush things up, and in this case, that would mean trying to ensure that Tejpal quickly gets over this with the minimum of impact (the irony is just that a couple of weeks back, this same Shoma Chaudhury had tweeted that the CBI chief should resign over his joke on rape).

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