Indian magazine editor jailed after rape allegation

Nov. 30, 2013 at 2:43 PM
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PANAJI, India, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The editor of Tehelka, one of India's most prominent news magazines, was jailed Saturday facing allegations he raped a woman who works for the publication.

Tarun Tejpal's "pre-bail" was revoked following a court hearing in Goa state, during which prosecutors successfully argued Tejpal should be placed behind bars so he could be interrogated about the incident that allegedly took place during a literary conference the magazine hosted in Panaji two weeks ago, the BBC reported.

The alleged victim, who has not been identified publicly, is said to have been one of the magazine's junior reporters.

Since she went public with the allegations six journalists have resigned from Tehelka, including its managing editor. The alleged victim also no longer works for the magazine, which has published major exposes on official misogyny in the government.

It was unclear whether she quit or was fired.

Tejpal denies the accusations and in a statement called his arrest a "pre-election political conspiracy." A prosecutor also said he contends he and the woman had a consensual relationship.

The Press Trust of India reported Tejpal taken into custody by Goa state police shortly after District and Sessions Judge Anuja Prabhudesai rejected his bail plea, which had been strongly opposed by prosecutors.

The Times of India reported that in rejecting bail for the editor, the judge noted there was evidence Tejpal had tried to influence the family of his accuser. Tejpal contends his relationship with the woman was consensual, a prosecutor said.

"It may be mentioned that the contention of the applicant that he is being prosecuted at the behest of persons with vested interests or due to political pressure has prima-facie no merit," the judge also said.

Tejpal's attorney, Geeta Luthra, said he was ready to stay in Goa so he would be available to investigators and was ready to surrender his passport.

"If police want, our client will sign on a plain paper and they can write whatever they want," she said in arguing his arrest was unnecessary.

Prosecutor Saresh Lotlikar said hotel video footage backed the female journalist's allegations. He described the journalist as being from a humble background and her family's breadwinner, and noted she was risking her livelihood by accusing Tejpal.

Tehelka aggressively covered the case of a New Delhi woman's brutal gang rape and murder on a public bus, PTI said.

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