I think the victim in the Tejpal rape scandal has been successfully derailed. She is an investigative journalist for a magazine like Tehelka with support from other investigative journalists and activists, and it is my view that she had made the right choice to opt for a sexual harassment committee.
Instead, the whole drama seems to have gone under BJP control. The Goa police have filed an FIR and are taking their own sweet time going about “investigating”. For someone with sufficient proof about the case, they have not arrested Tejpal. For that matter, they have interviewed neither the victim nor Tejpal, choosing to begin with the witnesses and Shoma. Some explained that with “high profile criminals”, police first interview everyone and get proofs before taking the risk of moving in on them. Which does not explain why the girl has not been interviewed. Surely she would be the first priority then?
My gut feel is that the case has neatly been taken political control of, before anything concrete could happen. After the initial fumble (or cover up), Shoma Chaudhary seemed interested in the girl’s justice. As soon as she started forming sexual harassment committee, the FIR took everything out of her hands.
In other words, they have Tarun Tejpal dangling where they want him to ignore or take interest in at their leisure. Here is what I am seeing:
- Victim wanted sexual harassment committee. Justice was demanded for her, while Goa Chief Minister was on record saying nothing could be done while she did not file the case.
- Shoma Chaudhary refused to form a sexual harassment committee. Outrage on behalf of the victim.
- Public pressure forced Tehelka to appoint a leader for the sexual harassment committee. Shoma announced. Goa police suddenly realized it could take cognizance of the case on their own and landed up in Delhi. Where they are mostly on the scene and taking their own time, but with a police FIR, the question of the sexual harassment committee becomes moot, since Tejpal will not admit anything that will eventually be used against him in courts.
Some are arguing that the sexual harassment committee would be a puppet of Tehelka, but I don’t see how this could easily be done. Particularly with the kind of scrutiny, and the girl not getting justice could still file an FIR, which would put more people in the dock for covering up. Besides, Tejpal may have ulterior motives and political connections but believing that all in an organization dealing extensively with human rights would sell out is a bit absurd. Believing that they would protect a well connected rapist, while state controlled police wouldn’t has to be a joke.
The Sexual harassment committee would be a way faster process than a court case, and if it were Tejpal’s puppet as alleged, it would be under pressure to give a sense of justice to the victim, if they wanted to “save” him.
It could be argued that the committee would “find” that no rape happened, but that is near impossible given that the victim’s complaint describes what was done, which is rape AND Tejpal has not disputed it. Their decision would be on paper – either confirming the rape officially or denying it, which would make them accessories. In my view, more important than the weight of the judging authority, a relatively powerless victim is best served by a rapid official decision in her favor which she can leverage in the larger fight. Rich and powerful people have the endurance to wait out their adversaries.
In my view, what has happened now is a convenient distraction from the Cobrapost expose that had raised questions BJP had no way of answering. Given the overall collusion currently between BJP and Congress (there appears to be a truce till the Delhi elections) as they try to secure their control against the Aam Aadmi Party that is also making noises about throwing corrupt people in jail in 6 months, my guess is that the Congress has thrown Tejpal under the bus to let the Saheb episode die.
My guess is that everyone and his cousin will forget about the whole thing once media moves on – which will be right in time for the elections or after – depending on how “coverage” is planned. And the most important time of her quest for justice nicely derailed, the victim will be left to fend for herself.
But the main thing here seems to be to draw the focus away from both Congress and BJP (while fake “exposes” against AAP continue – along with disproportionately less coverage of their activities in media).
I will be very surprised if anything happens about this case in a hurry now. As I write, the victim has resigned from Tehelka citing pressure from Tejpal’s family. She also accuses Shoma Chaudhary of a cover up.
And I am angry for the victim being used like that.
I hope all the people advising her that an FIR was in her interest and Sexual Harassment Committee would simply be a cover up and criticizing the activists advising her…. I hope this swarm of media and political voices also stick the duration of her fight instead of vanishing off with the fickle spotlight like grasshoppers on caffeine.