Monday, November 25, 2013

Tarun Tejpal : A Muslim Perspective

How should we Muslims react to the Tarun Tejpal affair just unfolding in the news?

Of course one should not judge anything in haste but one has to make a judgment sooner than later.

Here is one possible Muslim perspective. But first the facts as these have come out.

According to an article in the Times of India on November 22, 2013 a female journalist working for the Tehelka, a magazine specializing in sting operations, sent an email to its managing editor Shoma Chaudhury accusing the founding editor Tarun Tejpal of sexual assault.

Chaudhury  feels a sense of outrage and betrayal but will not go to the police for Tejpal has a different version. Police files a FIR under Sections relating to rape, rape of a woman taking advantage official position and outraging the modesty. DGP of police Kishan Kumar asserts that law will pursue its own course and the Chief Minister of Goa, the place where incident took place, Manohar Parrikar assures a crackdown on high profile crime [sic].

Tarun Tejpal resigns from his post for six months and assures full co-operation to the investigating agencies, apologizes to the victim. Managing editor Chaudhury appoints a committee of three members, Tejpal's colleagues, to investigate the matter and denies charges of covering.

Tejpal asks for examination of the CCTV footage. DIG of police, OP Sharma, receives the footage. Police also asks for victims emails as well as all relevant documents.

Episode had occurred in a five star hotel in Bambolin, five kilometers from Goa capital Panaji. 

On November 23 the Goa police team is in Delhi to investigate the matter with victim, accused and others. Shoma Chaudhury says that the information in the media is wrong. Says that it does not amount to cover up to say that Tejpal has a different version of events. Promises full co-operation to Goa police and Delhi police assures the same.

The case carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Threat of arrest looms large on Tejpal who apologizes for lapse of judgment.

FIR files by Goa police at the directive of National Women's Commission.

Tejpal says that it was a consensual event that lasted less than a minute.

Shoma Chaudhury says that she angrily confronted Tejpal after receiving girl's email on Monday, perhaps November 18, about the event that took place a fortnight ago during a ThinkFest organized by Tehelka.

Girl had marked three other journalists in her email - whatever that means.

ABVP, the student wing of BJP, activists demonstrate outside Tejpal's house in Jangpura and Tehelka office in Greater Kailash - II in New Delhi.

Rounds of meetings in government and police department. Sources in the police said that there is a prima facie case against Tejpal.

Girls allegation that Tejpal assaulted her twice.
It turns out that there were no CCTV camera in the elevator.
A corridor camera shows the girl leaving in a hurry.

Tejpal's lawyer, Rajan Karanjwala, says that in incident happened only once.

A relative of Tejpal meets victim's mother requesting protection for him. Victim felt under pressure.

Another team to arrive in New Delhi from Goa to meet the victim.

Police asks Chaudhury to hand over the laptop and iPad used in communication for the case.

Tejpal and family members refuse to meet the media camped outside their residence.

The Godfather-II actor Robert Di Nero too was in the conference.

Victim wanted to go out of the lift and take the stairs but Tejpaj prevented her from doing that. girl on the verge of hysteria but the editor carried on.

... I then realized that Mr Tejpal was simply pressing buttons... to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open. At this point, he began to kiss me...
Further and more explicit details ahead.

National Commission for Women (NCW) asks Mumbai police to provide security to the victim.

Goa team interviews three Tehelka employees but returns without questioning Tejpal. Chaudhury grilled for nine hours.

Delhi High Court to hear Tejpal's bail plea.

Police might file additional charges against Tejpal.

Journalist Nidhi Razdan asks Choudhury that it looks as if you are more upset that the news was leaked then the event itself. Grilled on Vishakha guidelines:

Vishakha judgment was an off shoot of a rape case verdict in Rajasthan. It stipulated official responsibility of employer in case of work place sexual assault.

Kiran Bedi said that Shoma Chaudhury should have been the first one to go to the police and that she has been wasting time on new networks explaining the situation. Like Nirbhaya case the police investigation will fix the case and this man will be fixed.

Tavleen Singh said that Tehelka takes higher moral grounds then any other network in these matters but in their own case they are talking about another version of the events.

Indira Jaisingh: The email from the girl should not have been in the public domain but unfortunately that is the case. On the basis of that there is a case for ( commitment of ) rape.

Nandita Das: I was extremely disappointed with Tehelka for we contributed to the creation of Tehelka (with different hopes.)

Suzzette Jordan, a rape survivor from Kolkata: I was at the event talking about my ordeal and now I feel that I might have been made fun of in a similar manner as the present victim is being laughed at.

The Vishakha judgment was an offshoot of a rape case involving a social worker in Rajasthan. It laid down the requirements for employers dealing with complaints of sexual assault and stipulated the formation of committees to dispose of complaints from victims of harassment.

Read more at:
The Vishakha judgment was an offshoot of a rape case involving a social worker in Rajasthan. It laid down the requirements for employers dealing with complaints of sexual assault and stipulated the formation of committees to dispose of complaints from victims of harassment.

Read more at:
The Vishakha judgment was an offshoot of a rape case involving a social worker in Rajasthan. It laid down the requirements for employers dealing with complaints of sexual assault and stipulated the formation of committees to dispose of complaints from victims of harassment.

Read more at:
Four Tehelka journalists resign.

Shobha De divulges that Tejpal was victim's father's friend as well as father of her friend. ... after all hell had broken loose, and social media platforms had created a war zone out of the controversy, nothing of any worth was forthcoming from Tehelka’s side.

BJP's Arun Jetli accuses Congress of protecting Tejpal.

... the nation is deprived of the sage advice of P Chidambram, the caustic comments of Kapil Sibal and the exaggerated tweets of Manish Tewari ...

Tejpal's lawyers Geeta Luthra and Pramod Dubey moved the Delhi High Court for Tejpal's bail, before Justice GS Sistani, which is likely to be heard Tuesday.

Tarun Tejpal stops Raman Kiranpal's story on Goa mining mafia a few years ago. Since then Tejpal's ThinkFest has been held in the hotel owned by the same mafia.   ... you are in Goa, eat and drink as much as you want and sleep with whomever you want ...


Tarun Tejpal came to lime light with the sting operation on BJP president Bangaru Laxman who had to resign from his post for having got caught on tape shoving a hundred thousand rupees in his desk.

And then his team went onto do some more operations of the same kind including tricking the perpetrators of Gujrat violence against Muslims.

They had done an operation on Muftis having ideological affiliation to Deoband's Darul Uloom thinking that they have proved to the world that Muftis can give Fatwah for money - implying saleability of a Shariah opinion.


Islam tauts itself as a complete way of life and hence should have an opinion on the sordid saga unfolding before our eyes.

The media at the moment is overwhelmed by the feminist take on the matter. Tehelka itself is a representative and a de facto subscriber of the feminist ideology. It is clear that this is a sore point for the many people opining on the episode.

There is that opinion that if Tejpal goes down, and it looks all set to go that way, then Tehelka too will go down.

Now the dominant media outlets of India as well as the dominant intellectual stream in modern day India happens to be the people like Tarun Tejpal. It is unlikely that they will come out with a comprehensive solution to the problem. Even the assertion that it is a failure of an individual to implement the said ideology and not a failure of the ideology itself has to be implanted into their discourse from without - they are not likely to come up with that excuse.

So we come to the original question - what is Islam's take on the affair.
There perhaps will be two answers. One from the educated class of Muslims. They will look for the sources on which they depend - the modern media. Clearly they are unlikely to come up with an original solution given the fact that the dominant media ideology is facing a crisis of conscience - whether they know it or not.

The other Muslim answer will come from our religious establishment. They will say something along the lines that will be impossible to communicate to the people of India - reinforcing the image of Indian Muslim as an uneducated and inapt orthodox miserable being - if not an outright fundamentalist.

But this does not fulfill the implicit promise in the title of this post. So here we go.

The most visible response to the event falls short of Islamic expectations n several accounts.

To begin with Islam has very strict ruling of a woman being alone in a lift with a man that is not her close and allowed relative called a Mahram.

Then there is another concern - Islam does not forbid women working for a living but it is apparent from its structure that it does not assign this as a primary duty to women. This might be a contentious issue in the modern times when media is adrift with the ideology demanding absolute equality of man and woman.

Islam has a subtle position on that. It says that man and woman are equal.
Now that is not subtle at all. It is clear and stark. The subtlety comes in the appendix to above statement and this asserts the following that man has slight preference over woman.

This is a tie breaker in Islam. Yours truly has spent hours, days and weeks talking about it, without convincing, to the people of the type that dominate Indian media today. But to convince them is not perhaps a duty of Muslims - to explain is.

There are any number of women in India trying to implement the type of ideology current Indian media espouses. They are quite convinced about the correctness of their ideology for aren't they living it? This leaves out two crucial loop holes - the number of women out of the same loop who can not be brought to the same level and its cost.

 How many vacancies of the type of Madhu Kishwar, Tavleen Singh, Kiran Bedi, Barkha Dutt, Nandita Das, Shoma Chaudhury and Shobha De type are there? Answer - only that many. No more. On the ground we have got more than sixty crore candidates in India for the same posts. But the moral high ground holding intellectuals of current Indian media have no awareness of this numerical nuance.

Secondly what is the cost of adopting that way of life? May we add the Tejpal episode to the bill? Even if somehow this type of eventualities can be made impossible to occur we are left with a life style that is plain undesirable because of what it reduces a man or woman to. Out of many other disadvantages the endemic childlessness of such people is sufficient for us at the moment.

There are many other things can bee said in this regard but as an appetizer above words should be sufficient. Yours truly will not remind the sensitive modern Indian about what Islam thinks about rape and rapists.