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It is no secret that Indian laws on Free Speech are not exactly geared for creative freedom. Where "offensive" can legally be prosecuted, not much remains to be said. This is hardly a secret and it is impossible that anyone in the business of creating content for the masses - whether publishing or video can be unaware of it given the regular outrages it throws up.

When All India Bakchod produced its event as a "roast" - a format of insult based humor - it is impossible that none of the wise people on the team or those helping them produce it thought that there would be angry people. Them going ahead and producing it did indeed seem like pushing the envelope, as they claimed it to be.

In the process, name and fame and money (for charity) came their way. Many of those who saw the roast were vaguely revolted by the idea of crudery for the sake of crudery - including humor that bordered on insults of identities - for color of skin, sexual orientation or whatever. There still was a willingness to accept it all for the simple reason that the show did one thing. It blew open the question of what is allowed speech.

Support mobilized from everywhere. People spoke up in solidarity and support. Many people published videos using profanity as solidarity.

Predictably there was outrage. You cannot produce content with explicit phallic profanity and pretty much only that without angering those who would like to pretend that pre-teen kids playing cricket don't yell "teri maa ka ******" on streets (true story, right under my window). This was predictable and happened as predicted.

It appears everyone except All India Bakchod anticipated this for some reason. As the outrage came in with police complaints filed and intimidation from fringe political outfits, they suddenly lost their hard on, so to say. They took down their video (not before it got millions of hits), wrote a half assed statement about how them being okay with facing consequences but not others, etc. and have been busy apologizing ever since, it seems.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena said that they wouldn't allow any films featuring the participants of the roast to be released unless Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh apologized. They not just apologized, they took down their video. From there on it seems to be an orgy of apologies. Ranveer Singh apologizes to ex-girlfriend, someone apologized to gays - not sure who. AIB issued yet another apology specifically to Christians and god knows who else.

The one apology they have not made is to those who stood by them and are now looking like fools for believing in their right to create content that pushed envelopes. In the face of illegal intimidation, FIRs and the standard issue outrage were entities like the Film Writers Association of India and Amul, which immortalized their show with an Amul cartoon in solidarity.

Amul butter cartoon supporting AIB
Amul butter cartoon supporting AIB

There are people who have gone out of their normal use of language to produce content with profanity in support of All India Bakchod. In solidarity.

Instead of the rattling of a bad status quo on free speech, what All India Bakchod did was to endorse it with high profile apologies. Over and over.

Instead of reaching out to the wider community endorsing their right to speech and willing to challenge laws if need be, by their side, they abdicated their own speech and screwed the fight for Freedom of Expression in India by bowing down to the dysfunctional status quo.

Many have said that All India Bakchod cannot be blamed for what our intolerance forced them to do. Well, I do blame them. The intolerance is not a new thing or something they were not aware of while creating a full fledged profanity and abuse filled show. What did they expect when they created it? Sardar shabashi dega?

That just because they created profanity, people would be all applause? No one is that stupid. They created something illegal as a hit and run name and fame (and fund raising) measure is the only conclusion that I can draw from this.

Do they care that in the process they harm a rights movement that has far more serious stakes than their whim to be juvenile? They apologized to the Christians who have magnanimously accepted it. In the meanwhile, Sanal Edamaruku continues to live outside India, hounded by FIRs for exposing a "miracle" that turned out to be embarrassing for the church.

It is the same anger I felt during the Tarun Tejpal case and the same anger I felt when the BJP suddenly woke up to free speech when their own supporters got accounts blocked. It is those with abundant voice using entire rights movements at convenience without regard for the potential setback to the rights of those who face far more danger than they do. It is us elites who know the arguments and jargon of the "right side" of debates and can use it to claim our rights with great ease and scant regard for the backlash on the credibility of the cause itself that we are exploiting and far more vulnerable people counting on overcoming resistance to their rights for their very safety.

There are battered women walking into police stations being turned away without FIRs, but we make a spectacle of how women can completely demolish a man without filing an FIR and the media will cheer. There are people whose writing gets taken down, who are forced to flee the place they live in, but we can whimsically use black profile pictures over temporarily blocked social media accounts and go back to filing FIRs to silence those we don't like. There are people forced to flee the country for making the church angry, but we will go out of our way to make them angry and resolve it easily with an "oops. sorry". Who cares what this trivialization does to the family of the raped girl whose father carried her for hours only to be refused an FIR or the Perumal Murugans or the Sanal Edamarukus?

This is the worst exploitation of profound struggles for human rights in my eyes.

It isn't about blaming or not blaming AIB. It is about horrendous precedent set through completely thoughtless "pushing the envelope" - what they did was illegal and guaranteed to create outrage all through. Yet their resolve crumbled so thoroughly on facing threat that they did not even attempt to rally the overwhelming support offered to them to make their "rebellion" a success. Those supporting them to push Freedom of Speech further ended up with a sterling example of how to resolve outrage slapped into their faces. Apologize, over and over. Grovel. Go into hiding. That is how you can resolve outrage when someone doesn't like what you said.

And no, All India Bakchod hasn't apologized to us for deliberately raising and then sabotaging the question of Free Speech. The free speech they were flashing around as they raised funds on their event and youtube. All of us who spoke up for it because we know how important it is for blocks to be prevented - many of whom didn't even like the crudery. All of us who stood up for them.

I would say fuck you All India Bakchod, except there appears to be a queue to do exactly that.

This is with regard to Vrinda Grover's facebook post as well as assorted defenders of Tejpal's poor, helpless victim, which I cannot comment on individually to engage in debate, so I am choosing to respond here.

To clarify my stand with regard to this case, I do not know Tarun Tejpal personally, have never even corresponded with him or Shoma Chaudhary. Maybe I made a few tweets to Shoma on Twitter criticizing something - I don't recall. That is the extent of my being "friends" with them. This blog has over a dozen articles questioning the media bias on this case. Not a single one of them claims that Tejpal is innocent or even says the victim is lying. My points are:

  1. I believe there is a concerted effort to present this case in a unidimensional and unambiguous manner. This violates my right to accurate information through news media.
  2. It is not respectful of my country, its laws or women's rights in general to rig a case through media in this manner.

I do not understand how it is a media trial to raise questions about an issue that was originally raised through organized promotion of selective leaks of confidential communication and judged in media. It is a response, not initiation of a trial. If a lie was told in media, it must be responded in media. The media supari tactics of hit and run reporting are not ethical in my view. The trial was initiated by the halo-dharis and judged in media and not just Tejpal, but his family and organization suffered before a judge ever saw this case.

That the original complaint that put this man in jail for four months mentions forced entry into lifts on separate occasions - neither of which are evident on CCTV footage is most certainly relevant to anyone following the case in media who knows it for a "fact" that the victim was physically pulled into the lift - based on the victim's own statement. Not to mention your oh so feminist media (it turns out wrongly) reporting that the CCTV footage confirmed the victim's complaint.

What is basically happening here is a widespread outrage about a media trial verdict of "guilty" being questioned - parading as outrage over "rape apology". I challenge anyone to show any publication with any kind of credibility that has called Tejpal innocent. I can show thousands that call him guilty. No one has commented on victim's character or such, but there is an abundance of coverage of Tejpal's business dealings, a comment made in another year altogether and more to create a perception of his character. So let us not get sanctimonious about media trials when all the "rape apology" that anyone has ever done is questioned the black and white nature of information actively perpetrated and aggressively enforced in public domain - incidentally information put forth by the victim's supporters or the victim herself - without redacting the victim's name, since we are suddenly fussy about these things.

Has the victim complained a single time that her private emails were distributed by someone who disclosed her identity? This is not just a disclosure of her identity, it is a violation of her privacy on an extremely serious matter - far more serious than a description of CCTV footage away from the scene of the rape - unless she authorized it. No objection by victim? Why not? She is fine with graphic details of her trauma published, but relatively ordinary descriptions of getting in and out of lifts - that do not mention her identity in any manner and in fact don't even mention the mild violence of pulling her in that she described? Who are we fooling here?

The CCTV footage has been shown to many carefully identified and selected persons in the media and other influential and powerful persons, by family and a close coterie of friends of Tarun Tejpal.

Well, why wouldn't they, if they believe Tejpal to be a victim of a massive campaign against him and have what they believe is evidence that proves his innocence? That the footage is not recklessly released, but selectively shown indicates (to me) that the intent is not to make the footage public, but to simply get the point out to the wider public that the allegations are not as black and white as they have already been reported - it is a correction of a public opinion and as part of the "public" who gets strategically incited to outrage, it is public right to know what our voice fuels. Or the whole thing should have been taken to court without involving public outrage as leverage.

This is in violation of the law and the order of the court. Yes the family has a right to defend Tarun Tejpal, but not by committing unlawful and illegal acts.

I am not a lawyer. Can someone explain how it violates law and order of the court? As far as I am aware, there is no gag on the case, other than the voluntary selective one by media. The family may have done it to defend Tejpal, but none of the reporting says he is innocent. This is more neutrality than the supposed feminists have been able to manage - that too in a heavily prejudiced situation.

I would like Vrinda Grover to explain how Tejpal's family has done unlawful and illegal acts, because such allegations have been used to deny bail in hearings.

The young woman journalist does not have a copy of the CCTV footage.

This is pathetic, Vrinda Grover. From Indian feminists fighting for the right of women to have access to evidence in their own case, the lack of access to the victim is being peddled as some kind of standard to deny factual information of a very public case being known to public. Also, the public has not got a copy of the CCTV footage. Only a description. Not even seen it.

Also, the victim may not have a copy of the footage, but the victim has seen the footage before her statement to the magistrate. She is not unaware of what it contains, as Vrinda Grover seems to be trying to lead the reader to believe. The victim changed some details from her original complaint after seeing the footage - which, before anyone accuses, I am not holding against her in any manner. It is common to be fuzzy on details after trauma. I am simply mentioning that she has seen it clearly enough to be able to find it useful for her statement.

I have not seen the CCTV footage. No one who has taken a public or private position asking for justice for the young woman journalist and demanded a fair trial, not prejudiced or overawed by the campaign conducted by the Tarun Tejpal gang, has seen the CCTV footage.

In other words, the whole circus gunning for Tejpal is taking the victim's accusations as fact and is not interested in any information to the contrary. For the record, I too haven't seen the footage and I too want justice for the victim. Only my definition of justice is not "What the victim says" but what actually happens in courts of law - which has been pre-rigged with massive media campaigning, so hope for my definition of justice is rather dim at the moment - regardless of who is guilty or innocent. The case has been botched beyond belief by the evangelists of "whatever the woman says" as women's rights.

We are not supposed to see that footage because it reveals the identity of the woman journalist. That is the law. 

I am a mere blogger, not a lawyer, but this seems like deliberate disinformation to me. Disclosing the identity of the victim on media is illegal. It is beyond absurd to say that those who KNOW the identity of the victim cannot see the footage because it REVEALS the identity.

Is the woman insane or merely trying to con the public into continuing to believe this "campaign for justice and fuck the law"?

For all those getting suckered into this crap, remember the countless interviews of victim's families, including reporters informing neighbours that the victim was raped because they were dumbfucks enough to want comments about her for TRP laden crap. That sleaze is unethical, but still not illegal till they reveal victim's identity ON MEDIA.

Yes we must debate issues and cases of public importance.

Here is a question I would like Vrinda Grover and gang to reply to. As a feminist, if you have supported a man being thrown into jail for violating a woman, is the woman's complaint allegedly being provably wrong in critical areas your responsibility to investigate and clarify your stand on or should a woman making accusations be supported unconditionally and exclusively always?

On each ocassion the friends and family of Traun Tejpal have orchestrated a media capaign against the young woman journalist. The entire campaign hinges on the 'young woman's character', which when decoded means the same old thing, her past sexual relationships.

This is slander about Tejpal's family. To the best of my knowledge, the first bail was denied when the victim claimed to be intimidated by the visit of Tiya Tejpal to her mother. Incidentally a visit the victim thanked Tiya for on the night before complaining. The second bail was denied when Tejpal was accused of intimidating his Investigating Officer - incidentally, this is not recorded in either the investigation records or the chargesheet. Miraculously claimed only during the bail hearing and forgotten since. After that, the victim claimed that photos of her were circulated by Tejpal's family. To the best of my knowledge, most of these forwards went to original recipients of the press release email leaks. I obtained one from a journalist and it turned out to be an image publicly available on the Think festival website. Now the cyber police are on a wild goose chase trying to find out which anonymous account emailed a publicly available image (that was later taken down) to intimidate the victim - must be Tejpal's family. Then you have the mobile phone found on Tejpal even though he was officially allowed STD calls at that point (got revoked after that incident). Then I lost interest.

Can you explain how these are "orchestrated media campaigns about her character"? I have been following this case from the start. First out of outrage, then when I smelled a media rat and thought someone should raise a counter narrative. I don't have many contacts, but I managed to connect with some ex-Tehelka journalists, Tiya Tejpal and some others. So far, the victim's character is not an issue I ran into in spite of actively seeking information. I still have no idea what her character is like. I know who her boyfriend is - from her own letter. So can you describe the method of this campaign and who its audience was if someone seeking information did not run into it? Or are these campaigns also like the photo intimidation? Circulating mainly among those who got original email leaks?

Is it a coincidence that these articles appear at a juncture when a bail petition will be moved for Tarun Tejpal in the Supreme Court.

No idea, but I can definitely say, accusations about Tejpal's family intimidating victim, disclosing her identity, breaking laws are being presented in time for a bail hearing. As usual.

I firmly believe that undertrials have a right to bail. However the jails are overcrowded with an undertrial population that is disproportionately POOR.

Right. Again that nice "feminist" concept of some people not getting rights being used as an excuse to deny rights you claim to usually support. Twice in one article. Not bad.

Where the accused persons can threaten witnesses, or tamper with evidence or use their position to cause prejudice to a fair trial, their liberty is constrained through denial of bail. We do not have a witness -victim protection mechanism that offers any real security to the complainants and so at times bail should be refused.

What is this intimidation? The victim claims a visit she thanked for was intimidation. An anonymously sent, publicly available photo was intimidation specifically by Tejpal's family. The investigating officer was "intimidated" by Tejpal. None of these describe any specific actions of threat from Tejpal or family directed at her. Though of course I am not naive enough to imagine these would be done publicly, but at least where exposed, they would describe how the intimidation happened?

'Going by the powerful people theory, let us assume Tejpal is indeed an intimidator with great power. Surely his being in jail wouldn't make the victim safer if he has "reach"? On the other hand, if he is out of jail, wouldn't it be one reason less to intimidate the victim (that is, if someone can explain how intimidation can cause bail to begin with unless the victim is the judge too)?  Logic says, intimidation will deny bail, not cause it - like Vrinda Grover is arguing.

Another problem with the intimidation theory is that the victim holds no power to free Tejpal. The case against him has not been filed by her to begin with. She was refusing anyway. Suppose she got successfully intimidated. What would she do? She can hardly deny her allegations as they are in writing in public domain as well as in court records and statements in front of magistrate. As long as the allegations exist, she can do nothing. What would intimidating her achieve other than denial of bail - which is already happening?

We live in a real world where power, influence and position, can and does manipulate and subvert and truth. It appears that at times these results can be achieved even when the person is in custody.

This sounds more like a threat than a concern, considering that so far, all the media trials have happened against Tejpal and with active role by mega news channels. The supposedly all powerful Tejpal has been unable to defend his rights at times (including visits by family, pen and paper or news media neutrality), let alone getting out of jail or sabotaging the case. Even the victim's description of Tejpal's daughter's actions were not verified with the daughter - in spite of the victim's letter saying that she confronted Tejpal on victim's behalf - before being published in newspapers that Tejpal's daughter claimed to have seen Tejpal acting in an inappropriate manner with another woman when she was 13. Something Tiya flat out denied saying. Her visit to the victim's mother was painted in media as intimidation without bothering to seek the other side of the story at all.

The CCTV footage is hardly the only hole in this mega justice story. It is merely another straw. What of the verifiable facts of the email have stood to verification other than those she herself told her witnesses? Tiya denies how she had been described in the emails. Tiya claiming innocence on her visit to victim's mother is supported by the email by the victim herself. Descriptions of pulling by Tejpal are not backed by CCTV footage in a single instance (to even be remembered wrongly) according to reports.

You think the public whose outrage over "facts" helped put a man in jail has no right to know the status of the "facts" that triggered their outrage?

In contrast, the supposedly intimidated victim has people either staunchly declaring she is the victim and Tejpal is guilty or at best saying there is more to the case than the black and white narrative painted in media. Yet apparently it is Tejpal's family manipulating and subverting truth. Maybe they are conspiring to keep him in jail? Strange, suicidal strategies could learn a lesson or five here. Like "how to get free accommodation from the government by breaking law before pretending to apply for bail" or something.

Even as the law stands by, as a mere spectator, indifferent to its promise to protect the woman's dignity.

The woman's dignity was paraded by her well wishers in media when they printed a distraught rape victim's potentially inaccurate and angry emails word for word and treated them as the complete truth needing no verification. THAT is what is causing the victim to lose her dignity when the narrative does not tally up, not any mega conspiracies. The victim was distraught, but her advisers and media exploited her experience for maximum drama, and when the story gets holes, someone is a spoilsport. How dare his family not let him sit quietly in jail and rain on our parade? If more holes appear, this vicious lot will turn on the victim, quite forgetting that the victim herself did not do more than a complaint within the organization and it was them that treated every word without verification as total fact because it would put a "sensational" man in jail.

The victim's dignity was paraded by her supposed friends who stayed completely quiet on the violation allowing a repeat and still staying quiet leaving potential for more repeats. The victim's dignity was paraded by the people who sent out email forwards with graphic details of her trauma complete with her real identity and email. The victim's dignity was paraded when she failed to register even a token protest of extremely private conversation being leaked to media - thus confirming that it was deliberate. The victim's dignity was paraded when her "well wishers" - ALL of them familiar with law, women's rights and procedures after rape either failed to convince her to report her rape and go to a hospital immediately to get tested, but instead participated in a media tamasha starring her experience. Who suddenly think description of CCTV footage is somehow more violating of her rights than her intimate trauma splashed across front pages nationwide that THEY FANNED WITH ALL THEIR RESOURCES.

Who the heck are we kidding here?

What is happening is an organized intimidation of any attempt to question an organized black and white narrative. This includes supposed free speech activists suddenly happy about Outlook and Citizen getting notices for reporting that breaks no laws, discloses no identities.

The sad part is the victim may indeed be wronged, and the inconsistencies with her complaint may be memory issues. She may be wrong in adding some details deliberately or inadvertently, but making an honest complaint of violation. Or she may be totally fake on the other hand (unlikely), But this is no longer about her. By taking her words and treating them as cannon, media itself has vested them with enough credibility and power to be taken word for word as proof of crime and inconsistencies will only highlight the difference between the reality being uncovered, and the one that is comprehensively enforced in media to the point of mere saying that there is more to the case is called a "rape apology". The absolute character media invested in those leaked emails will haunt the victim, because inconsistencies will raise questions on how unverifiable parts can be trusted, when inaccuracies in reporting are hardly a new phenomenon.

At the end of the day, the victim will be used as far as she is useful keeping Tejpal out of commission and ditched ruthlessly denied of credibility for a real complaint she filed because she ended up being held accountable for a media agenda and taken onto a turf where the charges were determined by media, the judicial process was brought about by the media, and the media doesn't lose. It simply moves to the next shiny headline. The damage to her case from media exaggerations/emphasis will be paid for by the victim in credibility.

Four months in jail without bail, and with testimony that has visible loopholes, certainly requires a case to be examined thoroughly, not just by the courts but also democracy’s watchdog, the media.

Tehelka’s editor Tarun Tejpal, facing a rape charge levelled by a young colleague, is languishing in a Goa jail with bail being repeatedly denied, even as his friends and family rush around for judicial intervention and justice that remains elusive.

The Citizen had a close look at the alleged victims testimony and compared it to the CCTV footage available of those fateful moments in a five star hotel lift in Goa. While there is no footage of what happened in the few seconds/minutes that the lift took to go up and come down from the second floor of the hotel, what happened around the lift does not bear any similarity to what the alleged victim claims had happened.

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In other words while the CCTV footage does not establish one way or the other whether the finger penetration constituting rape had taken place inside the lift, it does seem that the associated trauma and agitation that the alleged victim referred to in her complaints was strangely enough not recorded by the cameras.

The verbal ‘testimony’ of the alleged victim is not fully supported by the CCTV images. Narrating the events of 7 November 2013, the opening night of Tehelka magazine’s Think Festival in Goa, the alleged victim said in her written testimony, “as we made our way out of the elevator of Block 7 at the Grand Hyatt, Mr Tejpal held my arm and pulled me back into the lift.” It must be pointed out here that earlier they were in the Lift to drop actor and guest Robert de Niro, and his daughter to their suite as the alleged victim was on what she says “chaperone” duty with the Hollywood star.

So according to her Tejpal caught her arm and pulled her back into the lift saying “Let’s go wake up Bob.” The CCTV footage does not record this at all. Instead it show that after dropping the star to his suite on the second floor, they exited the building chatting rather amicably. Of course there is no CCTV record of this but apparently a hotel staffer passing by saw the two chatting and has given a statement to this effect. Tejpal later spelt out the details of the conversation and these were reportedly highly erotic stories told by the alleged victim to him. The Citizen is not repeating these, as while she has not denied the conversation, it is outside the realm of this report.

The CCTV then records the two re-entering the foyer after about five plus minutes and they go back into the lift together. The alleged victim seemed to be walking in quite easily, with Tejpal neither holding her wrist, nor dragging her into the lift. Incidentally the Hyatt Hotel Block 7 has only two floors, so there is not much that a would be rapist could do inside without the doors opening. It is not a very busy foyer, but waiters on duty can be seen opening the lift doors for de Niro’s entourage, walking up and down, as well as guests in the few minutes that are basically under scrutiny.

Again The Citizen is not in a position to gauge what went on inside the few seconds/minute in the lift as this was not recorded and both the alleged victim and the alleged accused have their own versions of this. This is the part when the alleged rape is reported to have taken place. The lift then opens on the second floor as per the CCTV recording and both come out, Tejpal in fact a little ahead, she following without fleeing, and they move out of the range of the cameras, supposedly having taken the stairs to go down again.They are seen then exiting the building.

The alleged victim, however claims, that the lift finally stopped at the ground floor and not the second floor where they were heading in the first place. And that Tejpal manipulated the buttons. And that after the alleged rape she, “picked up my underwear and began walking out of the elevator rapidly, he was still following me asking me what the matter was.” There is no way to independently check out the conversation, but the images do not show visible signs of agitation on her part.

The alleged victim then records how she informed her colleagues in Goa, and called her boyfriend long distance to tell him what had happened. But that she did not want to lose her job so the next morning she continued as if nothing had happened. There was even a fairly normal work related exchange of messages between her and Tejpal. Then at night when she was going up to fetch de Niro she met Tejpal, according to her version and he said, “come up with me, we have to get something from Bob’s room.” She claimed that she was scared as she did not want a repeat of the night before, and said she would go up and get what was required.

“I was scared of getting into the lift with him again, and more terrified that he was going to try and take me into a room this time. By this time he was holding me by the wrist and had taken me into the lift (which is barely a few steps away from the lobby of Block 7 where he had asked me to wait),” she has said. The CCTV images are at variance with this. Tejpal was not holding her or pulling her. In fact as they were getting into the lift a guest passed by and stopped to chat with Tejpal, who then followed her into the lift.

Then of course there is her testimony of what happened inside the lift, how he lifted up her dress, and the crude remarks that allegedly followed. And that she was so upset that when the lift doors opened on the second floor she said, “I’m taking the stairs and started to walk out”. He pulled me back in, sensing that I was on the verge of hysteria–by this point he was totally comfortably physically manhandling me, but sensing my sheer panic he did not touch me until the lift reached the ground floor. Right as the doors were about to open, he patted my behind once more.”

The CCTV footage shows them getting into the lift as outlined earlier, and in 20 seconds they are on the second floor. The door opens, she walks out first, Tejpal follows her out. He then stops and without touching her turns and goes back into the lift. And she runs back behind him and enters the lift. She could have taken the stairs if all that she said had happened, it was just two floors down. There was no dragging back, no pulling her in. And 20 seconds later they re-emerged from the lift on the ground floor, and walk out quite casually together.

The jury is clearly out on this one.

This article by Seema Mustafa was originally published in The Citizen - republished here, because their site doesn't seem to be working.

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The 12 volume chargesheet against Tarun Tejpal seems to be a case of piling up enough trees to obfuscate the woods. I have not read the chargesheet and am going by media reports, which is why it took me so much time to ask - I had to be certain. I would be happy to be proved wrong, but these questions need to be asked.

  1. I hear that the CCTV footage video is not attached with the chargesheet. Considering that it is the most accurate neutral record of fact of at least part of the narrative Tarun Tejpal stands accused of, it is unbelievable that it is not provided. We know that the CCTV footage exists. We know that printouts from the footage frames are attached to the chargesheet. So the question begs to be asked. Why not provide the original video and let the scene speak for itself? This is a reasonable expectation, since Tarun Tejpal has consistently asked for the CCTV footage to be made public claiming that it will "vindicate" him. Under such circumstances, the only interpretation I can think of to not provide the video is because it will prove him right or at least dilute the charges against him and thus is not useful in the chargesheet.
  2. Tarun Tejpal's custody has been extended time and again mostly because of fears of intimidation. The intimidation seems to have manifested right on time to attend bail hearings as well, as I have shown in another article. One intimidation was in Tiya making a concerned visit to the victim's mother, which the victim thanked her for, only to call it intimidation on the next morning. Then you had the investigating officer accuse Tarun Tejpal of intimidating her - something that isn't on record before the bail hearing. Tarun Tejpal denied intimidating the Investigating Officer in a letter, only to have a "replacement intimidation" alleged. Anonymous leaks of the victim's identity through publicly available photos (the victim's identity was widely known courtesy emails she herself circulated) were attributed to Tarun Tejpal without any evidence to back it up, while media websites publishing the victim's photos openly are ignored. So, while the cyber crime departments will waste time trying to trace who sent publicly available photos in emails, and Tiya seems to have taken out the first allegation with the email, what remains is the second allegation of intimidation. None of the reports of the mega chargesheet mention the intimidation. Surely if Tarun Tejpal intimidated a police officer, that would be a charge against him? This mysterious accusation doesn't seem to appear anywhere except a verbal allegation in court just in time for bail to be denied. Why was Tarun Tejpal not charged with intimidating a police officer if he did it? If he didn't, what purpose did the accusation serve?

The recent developments give me a nasty feeling that an early prediction made during this case is going to happen. The victim did not file the case. The victim's letters of complaint used the words sexual harassment and demanded an apology for misconduct (which is not really covered by law as far as I know). The media magnified the case, pointed out the rape, the government proceeded as per rape, an investigation aiming to present a watertight case followed and now the case has reached a point where the police don't attach CCTV footage to the chargesheet.

My guess is that if the CCTV footage becomes known, the case collapses. It is a guess, based on the circus playing out. If that happens, the Goa government gets egg on their face, which will not look good before the Lok Sabha elections. So this will be dragged on till after the elections, if possible. Then, the inevitable happens. The case collapses or gets a far less sentence than advertised. BJP tells the girl they did what they could for her. Tells the world they were misled by media. Media turns and points to the girl.

Sum total of the issue is going to be that supposed women's rights supporters will have ended up heavily supporting the exploitation of an alleged sexual harassment victim's trauma for a media-politics circus that took her through the wringer and dropped her back exactly where she was and with questions about her honesty, because after all the hype, anything less than a conviction for rape is going to backfire on her - even if it hadn't been her who hyped it. At that point media will forget that it is they who magnified her word. It won't be media remembering that her demand for an apology was for misconduct.

Politicians will have had just another day at work. Media will move on to its next rescue for TRPs.

The victim will join the many masses who pass through media spotlight and earn channels crores of rupees and fare no better because of it.

This is the neo-patriarchy. Where women become entertainment, are not in control of their own agenda and are told that this attention and everyone else speaking for them and triggering loads of actions with consequences they will face alone when the dust settles.... is respect, support, feminism.

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The Tarun Tejpal chargesheet attempting Guinness book records over what was basically a groping and rape under the new definition got me curious about the sizes of various chargesheets. This is mostly an experiment driven by curiosity.

I thought the chargesheet had a lot of pages and compared it with a few, and there seemed to be a pattern. So weeding out random results and sticking with Mainstream News sites, these were the results I got.

Name of rape casePages in chargesheetNo of search results in MSM sites
Tarun Tejpal Goa Rape Case26848060
Asaram Bapu rape case10114260
Babu Lal Nagar rape case2004080
Shakti Mills rape case (photojournalist)6001460
Shakti Mills rape case (second - was back to back with first)361395
Hyderabad techie gang rape by cab drivers case45533

I am using this search engine I have created using India's biggest news sites only.

This is by no means exhaustive research, but in my view is somewhat indicative of media influence on how "seriously" cops take a case. What the merit is, in the chargesheet, is difficult to say. For example, I hear that the chargesheet against Tarun Tejpal contains frame by frame printouts of CCTV footage (but not the video). Something like that will fill up pages fast.

There are exceptions which seem reasonable as per prevailing patterns in the country:

  • The Babu Lal Nagar case has a smaller chargesheet than the pattern. Babu Lal Nagar is also a politician and an ex-minister.
  • The second Shakti Mills Gang Rape case has disproportionately more page chargesheet - it also came on the heels of the first Shakti Mills Gang Rape outrage.
  • I have deliberately omitted the Delhi Gang Rape, which has a 1011 page chargesheet, mainly because the results (210,000) include all kinds of articles, which are not related to the case but refer to it - from demands for laws to new laws to op-eds on other rapes to .... anything. Literally. I was not able to filter out relevant results in a way that could be equivalent with the rest. If you can, help me out.
  • There are bound to be errors in such measures ranging from pages indexed or not by Google, to cases being referenced by other issues, so this cannot be considered an accurate method, but assuming similar variations for all the cases (other than Delhi Gang Rape), I think the results are indicative of a need for more refined research.
  • The custom search currently shows only results from sites related with National news channels. I imagine large newspapers also influence opinion and I will try to customize this search to include a more realistic selection of news sources that influence public opinion.

What it means will take more research than is the capacity of this blog to produce, but I do think that media reporting influences how the police deal with a case. Which is an excellent reason for media to be responsible in how they deal with cases, unless they WANT to preempt the process of justice.