New Delhi: Tarun Tejpal, the Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka, has stepped down for six months after being accused of sexual assault by a woman journalist who works with the weekly magazine.
A person close to the journalist rejected Tehelka's claim that she is "satisfied with the action taken." She alleged that the woman was subjected to "an act of grave sexual misconduct" and said she was "completely shattered and emotionally scarred."
"The act happened continuously over a period of time...and despite the girl pleading that she is almost the age of his daughter...she pleaded 'please don't do this'...Her 'no' was not accepted...it happened once and it happened the next day," the journalist's confidante alleged.
In an e-mail to the magazine's Managing Editor, Shoma Chaudhury, Mr Tejpal wrote: "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."
He added, "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."
Ms Chaudhury forwarded Mr Tejpal's mail to Tehelka employees this evening and wrote: "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."
Ms Chaudhury told NDTV, "This is an internal matter. The journalist concerned is satisfied with the action taken."
She said Tarun Tejpal was recusing himself "in keeping with the principles of right response and standards that we want to live by."
The journalist's confidante has said she will "take each step as it comes." She has sought that Tehelka set up a committee to look into sexual harassment.