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Shoma resigned fearing arrest: NCW member

November 28, 2013 12:15 IST

National Commission for Women member Nirmala Sawant Prabhavalkar on Thursday said Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury may have resigned because she fears she will be arrested.

"Shoma's resignation shows that she doesn't even want to cooperate with the police. Her statements were not supportive," Prabhavalkar said.

"Shoma is guilty of suppressing evidence, which is an offence under the Indian Penal Court, she must be advised to dissociate," she added.

Chaudhury had resigned on Thursday morning in the face of unrelenting criticism for the way she had handled a young journalist's complaint that the magazine's founder, Tarun Tejpal, had molested her in a Goa hotel earlier this month.

According to reports, in a letter sent to Tehelka colleagues announcing her decision to quit, Chaudhury said, "Over the past week, I have been accused of an attempt to "cover-up" 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."

Earlier this week, Chaudhury was interrogated by the Goa Police, which has booked Tejpal for rape. Tejpal request for bail will be decided on Friday, the Delhi High Court said yesterday, refusing to stop the Goa Police from arresting him till then.

Tejpal had earlier filed a petition before the high court alleging that there was conspiracy behind the allegations of sexual assault, that the woman journalist was lying, and described the incident as a 'light hearted banter'.

Goa Police had on November 22 lodged an FIR against Tejpal under IPC sections 376 (rape), 376 (2)(K) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty). Conviction under section 376 of IPC entails a maximum of life term in jail.

Chaudhury had earlier disagreed with the allegation that she was avoiding going to the police to depose on the matter. While initially maintaining that it was not for her to go to the police, and that it was the young woman journalist's right to decide how to proceed in the case.

Chaudhury said: "The information to the media is wrong. I have sent a mail to the police. There is a lot of wrong information that is floating around. I cannot possibly be giving any evidence. I am cooperating with the Delhi Police."

Tejpal has suggested that the young journalist's version of events is not entirely accurate. But in an email to her sent on Tuesday, he had admitted to a "shameful lapse of judgment that led me to attempt a sexual liaison with you on two occasions on 7 November and 8 November 2013, despite your clear reluctance that you did not want such attention from me."

Goa Police was instructed by the state government to investigate her allegations, contained in the email by her to Chaudhury. That email was leaked to the press. The FIR against Tejpal lists rape by a person in a position of authority over the woman, an offence that carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison

Source: ANI