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Tehelka Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury resigns

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Tehelka Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury resigns
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New Delhi: Managing Editor of Tehelka Shoma Chaudhury Thursday resigned a week after its Editor Tarun Tejpal was exposed as having allegedly sexually assaulting a woman journalist colleague.

Chaudhury's resignation early this morning comes as Goa police appeared to be closing in on Tejpal who has to appear before it by 3 p.m today and speculation that she may also be named in the FIR for certain acts of commission and omission after the alleged offence became public.

"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.

"As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague's account precedence over everything else," Chaudhury said in her resignation letter.

"However, despite this, as a result of what's transpired over the past few days, my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognisance of this.

"I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka, which it has done in the past week.

"Therefore, I resign as Managing Editor with immediate effect," Chaudhury said. Ever since the scandal became public Chaudhury, a share holder in Tehelka and associated companies started by Tejpal, was accused of cover up and not taking proper action the case demanded.

Initially, Chaudhury sought to portray it as an internal matter and was more interested in getting an apology from Tejpal to the victim rather than reporting it to police because of the nature of the cognisable offence. Later, she tried to set up an internal complaints committee with Urvashi Butalia, a friend of Tejpal, as its head.

The committee never took off and Butalia also refused to be part of it. Meanwhile, a number of editors resigned from the magazine accusing Chaudhury of not doing justice to the victim and being interested only in protecting Tejpal.

Shoma Chaudhury’s resignation letter – Full Text

Dear All,

This has been a damaging time for all associated with Tehelka. Since the devastating allegation was first brought to my notice on 18th November, I have taken a series of actions in response to this complaint. To my mind, I acted on instant outrage and solidarity for our colleague as a woman and co-worker.

After the first steps to immediately address her expressed needs, the process of setting up the anti-sexual harassment committee was begun. 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. In the next stage, once the committee was formed, the law would have taken its course according to the findings and recommendations.

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. As for my feminist positions, I believe I acted in consonance with them by giving my colleague's account precedence over everything else.

However, despite this, as a result of what's transpired over the past few days my integrity has repeatedly been questioned by people from our fraternity and, in fact, by the public at large. I would like to take cognizance of this.

I have worked hard for Tehelka for many years and what we have stood for is very dear to me and I hold it in high esteem. I do not want questions raised about my integrity to tarnish the image of Tehelka, which it has done in the past week. Therefore, I resign as Managing Editor with immediate effect.

There are many readers and colleagues who have believed in me and expressed their faith through this very difficult time. I am deeply grateful to them.

I will come in to office to close the issue and do the necessary handovers. I cannot express how painful this is for me. It has never been a part of me to give up midway through a challenge. 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.

Shoma

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