Tarun Tejpal steps aside as ‘Tehelka’ editor

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The following is the full text of the letter sent by Tarun J. Tejpal, founder-editor of Tehelka, to the managing editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury, at 2.58 pm today.

The subject line is: Atonement.

My dear Shoma,

The last few days have been most testing, and I squarely take the blame for this.

A bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for.

I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. Tehelka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears and sweat, and that of many others, against near-insurmountable odds.

It has lived for and fought the big battles of our time, always on the side of the oppressed and the wronged, always on the side of equity and justice. Its voice has travelled the world and changed policy and perceptions. It has been a beacon for those who would do the right thing.

Through bad, and worse, times I have protected Tehelka and its journalists from the inevitable demands of power and corporations. I have always allowed every journalist’s sense of the right to flower and express itself. No one has ever been asked to do what they don’t believe in.

I have always held that Tehelka the institution, and its work, have always been infinitely more important than any of us individuals. It is tragic, therefore, that in a lapse of judgment I have hurt our own high principles.

Because it involves Tehelka, and a sterling shared legacy, I feel atonement cannot be just words. I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months.

You have always been stellar, Shoma, and even as I apologise to you and all my other colleagues, for this unfortunate incident, I leave Tehelka in your more than capable and safe hands.

In apology,


The following is the full text of the email sent by Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury at 7.03 pm today, forwarding Tejpal’s letter to all staffers.

Dear All,

This may come as a rude surprise to many of you.

There is a letter from Tarun appended to this mail. There has been an untoward incident, and though he has extended an unconditional apology to the colleague involved, Tarun will be recusing himself as the editor of Tehelka for the next six months.

Tehelka is an institution he has built, and which many journalists both current and former, have contributed to in the most profound ways. Throughout our 13-year career, we have proudly articulated and tried to live by the highest standards.

We have also believed that when there is a mistake or lapse of any kind, one can only respond with right thought and action. In keeping with this stated principle, and the collective values we live by, Tarun will be stepping down for the period mentioned.

This is a hard time for all of us, and I hope all of you will stand by the institution.


Photograph: courtest Outlook

Also read: Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap


  1. virat

    He wants to take a 6 month break for attempted rape. This can happen only in india.

  2. Mysore Peshva

    Shri. Tejpal’s admitted “lapse of judgment” that triggered the complaint of sexual assault has no connection with his rather pompous statement: “Tehelka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears and sweat, and that of many others, against near-insurmountable odds.” Not unless he is somehow trying to make the complaint a team problem. Glib obfuscation! He seems quite willing to share liability with colleagues.

    In addition, why would he take a six-month hiatus — sounds like a sabbatical if not vacation. Atonement, indeed!

    Could he not instead simply offer to submit to a police investigation for alleged sexual assault under Indian Penal Code Sections 354A, 354B and 354D or alleged rape under Sections 375 and 376? Or are self-appointed liberals who ride the high horse too precious to face justice? It might sound mean, but the fall of the self-righteous can be quite delicious.

  3. SP Singh

    Well, I really do want to understand what is meant by a lapse of judgment. That he could not judge adequately whether the girl will complain? If his assault on a girl is a lapse of judgment, and a six-months stepping aside the punishment, then let’s see who all have had such a lapse of judgment. The six in the Nirbhaya case were clearly victims of a lapse of judgment, since being poor and uneducated, they could not fathom the brutality of their actions, nor could they think of taking a six-month-long break from driving any young girl around in that white bus. Also guilty of a lapse of judgment is an entire line up that includes Bangaru Laxman, A Raja, Suresh Kalmadi.. and why not the killers of 2002 in Gujarat. After all, it is only a lapse of judgment that can induce one into burning a human being alive.
    Tarun, you also broke our hearts. You have given strengths to all those foolish arguments of certain girls who say “That’s how all men always are.” You have weakened the case of all those bright young girls who fight at home with their parents, saying, “Let me cover the crime beat. It’s okay to come home late, it is okay to work till late hours, and my boss is a very good human being.” Because pat would come the response — “So was Tarun Tejpal.”
    Oh, the alchemy of desire!

  4. ERR

    what is the difference between Tejpal and Asaram Bapu? He should do penance in jail.What is NCW doing now which created a racket couple of days back. Media’s silence is stunning and is as usual protecting one of their own..

  5. Krishna Kumar

    Why this Left-Right slug-fight even over cases of assault on women? (Modigate in Gujarat & Tarungate in Delhi)

  6. Sandipan

    Wonder when media stoops to such levels, where goes the media trial at that time? I have no doubt this man will be back free like Barkha Dutt is today. Sick guys.

  7. Irony

    I might hate my bosses for making me write stupid stories and work funny hours, but at least I will never be afraid to enter a lift/work late hours with them. This is just shameful! shows not only that he did not merely have a lapse of judgement but is indeed has poor values and is a sad example of a human being.

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