What is making hot news on almost every television channel and news paper is the delinquency of the Chief Editor of Tehelka magazine, Tarun Tejpal. He is alleged to have assaulted a young woman colleague in Goa two weeks ago. For two weeks the news was kept under wraps. It was only about 60 hours ago that it came to public notice. The whole nation feels outraged at the audacity of the culprit, who has admitted his guilt and apologised. He has “recused” himself for 6 months from his responsibilities of the Editor in Chief in atonement and for penance for his laceration. This drama has further infuriated the public. The feeble attempts of his Managing Editor, Ms Shoma Chaudhary, have added more fuel to fire. She had received the complaint in writing through an e-mail, but didn’t take action to get a case registered with the police. She is the most vocal gender activists, who has torn to pieces whosoever in bureaucracy or police she could catch. Recently the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation,was pilloried for an inappropriate analogy of the police predicament of not being able to deal with threats posed by terrorists for shortage of manpower, which was given such a startling twist and turn by the women activists, who demanded his resignation immediately, that the highest police officer slipped in to total silence on the subject. But in this case the Managing Editor had the guts to call it an “internal affair”, for which Tarun Tejpal had apologised and the woman victim was satisfied by it. Today the victim expressed her deep disappointment and anguish at the cover up and asked for stern action. The Goa police has filed an FIR (First Information Report), obtained CCTV footage from the hotel where the assault had taken place, issued notice to the Tehelka management to make available all information and despatched a team to Delhi to contact Tarun Tejpal. TV reports apprehend his arrest also. The question is: Why Has It Taken So Much Time For Action Against Tarun Tejpal When The Criminal Law Is Clear On The Subject? Any ordinary fellow would have been arrested by now and interrogated thoroughly. Since the arraigned person has admitted his misconduct, there should have been no delay in filing a charge-sheet in the court. The slow action speaks volumes for the power the press and media wields in India. The unfortunate fact is they “control” the government, distort the democratic process by indulging in paid news, propaganda and vilification campaign against public servants of the highest integrity (whom they deride by calling them “babu”- meaning a clerk!). This way they ensure removal of an honest public servant from his office by way of transfer or even punishment on frivolous grounds.
Worse still, the journalists and media houses, who wield enormous influence on ministers, political parties and politicians regulate, guide and control policy formulation as also its execution. They are the most pampered and privileged class in India. They are the tools in the hands of the ruling class whom they help in sowing the seeds of communal hatred, social division in society and hectoring the opposition parties. Their cartoons deride even patriotism!They frustrate people by playing partisan , negating the fiction of independence of the press and its status of the Fourth Estate of Democracy. It is nothing more than the fifth column of the ruling outfit and another brotherhood of the birds of the same feather. Their true colours came to public knowledge sometime ago when the transcripts of the Radiia tapes surfaced. The names of prominent journalists that came to light shocked the people and shattered their faith in the integrity of the press and electronic media. The same shock and journalistic trauma has been experienced by the people in the case of this assault by Tejpal. The very fact that one Editor of a magazine with limited circulation but bullying reputation due to two past expose, can immobilize the whole administration of criminal justice in the country for two weeks is unbelievable. It was still more shocking to hear Arnab Goswami, the anchor on Timesnow TV that the guest speakers declined the call by the channel for participation in the debate on the subject under some excuse or the other. Derek O’Brien paticipating in the debate revealed that he was advised not to participate as it was no big issue or political matter or some such thing. Till then I was only wondering where had all the women activists gone, as they were quick with their sharp barbs and acerbic comments at very short notice in such cases. One had laboured a lot to deliver an article on something about the minister in Gujarat snooping on some girl at the request of her father rather than taking up such a horrible incident of assault on a woman employee by Tarun Tejpal, whose every word was taken as a gospel truth because he was on the right side of the ruling establishment and selectively attacking the opposition, to the extreme mirth of self styled progressive or secular forces. The anger, shouting and ruthlessly unforgiving nature of their comments on TV channels were missing in this case. That is indicative of a strong bonding of persons with same interests. The attempt is to cover up the issue, which according to the Managing Editor got “leaked” to the press. The Tehelka has survived and built its reputation on such leaks only! So it failed to push it under the carpet, is offended that it got leaked and considers it an internal matter. However the same Tehelka, especially Ms Shoma Chaudhary the managing editor, would have torn the government to pieces had it been the misconduct of some senior IAS or IPS officer and the FIR had taken so much time. It is unsparing in the case of a retired Supreme Court Judge against whom an intern has levelled similar charges for a lesser degree of assault.
The point is that democracy is greatly threatened by a nexus between the media and the ministers and their political parties. It was some 15 years ago that the Vohra Committee examined the issues relating to the nexux of the politician-business-bureaucrat and made several recommendations. The scams of the past 10 years are the high point of such nexus. But the historic scams like the Commonwealth Games, 2 G spectrum allocation, Coalgate (coal block allocation) involving billions of rupees worth of public assets could have been checked before time had the press and media done its duty. But it failed because it was a part of the nexus. The damage suffered by democracy and democratic institutions in India in the past 10 years can never be undone. We have weakened our democracy. We have subverted our constitution. We have created and sustained institutions outside the framework of the constitution of India. The net result of it is total collapse of law and order in the country, corruption, inflation and extremely high prices of everything. People are losing faith in the rule of law. The liberties successfully taken with it by the likes of Tarun Tejpal and Ms Shoma Chaudhary very strongly contribute to the depletion of people’s faith in the rule of law. In whom should the people repose faith: government, parliament, judiciary, press/media? Perhaps, none.