Dear Shoma Chaudhury,
Hope this letter finds you in the best of your health; though I am not sure given the recent controversy that has surrounded your magazine. You must be wondering why I write this letter to you. I write this letter because I am so angry and disgusted with the way you have handled the recent incident of sexual assault in your organization. Your magazine has always taken a high-moral ground and has emerged as a crusader for everything that’s wrong around us. More importantly, as the Managing Director you have always been vocal about the issues related to communalism, corruption, and specifically women rights & empowerment. Your twitter timeline smells of morality, justice, truth and everything that an ideal world should have.
In your first encounter with the journalists after the email was leaked, you wore a smug look and instead of trying to answer them as the Managing Director of the magazine, you had the audacity to ask one of them “Are you the aggrieved party“? What if I put the same question to you? Were you the “aggrieved” party when you spoke about those dead in the communal clashes of Gujarat or were you the “aggrieved” party when you talked about the rape victims in Chhattisgarh? Sorry ma’am, but one need not be the victim always to speak about what’s not right. Like it or not but we all are the “aggrieved” party. DEAL WITH IT!
I also happened to see your interview with NDTV and CNN-IBN and I was amused to see the always articulate Shoma repeatedly coughing (acting?) and trying to answer in a low baritone. You even ‘lost focus‘ and were ‘confused’ towards the end. You also had the arrogance to say ‘I should start speaking in Spanish‘ to Rajdeep Sardesai during the interview which showed how irritated you were while trying to defend the indefensible. Anyways, I was more nauseated with the way you guarded yourself. I would bring to your notice few points:
1. The email which you wrote to the employees implying that there has been an ‘untoward‘ incident. After reading the victim’s account in the form of another email which she had sent you, I was aghast. Do you really think it was an ‘untoward‘ incident? What stopped you from calling a spade a spade? Wasn’t it downright an incident of sexual assault?
2. Moving on, I am sure your command over the language English is much better than mine but even a school student can tell you that ‘Rescuing‘ is NOT the same as ‘stepping down‘. The accused decided to go on a break for 6 months and you call it ‘Atonement’? And this comes from the woman who had this to say a few days back! Hypocrisy thy name?
3. A magazine that has been so vocal about the setting up of ‘Lokayuktas’ in certain states couldn’t get its own house in order and set up a committee as guided by the Court in the famous Vishakha case? Why? It is only now that you have decided to probe the matter when voices have been raised demanding an inquiry.
4. You also called the whole incident an ‘internal matter’ between the two persons. Doesn’t looks good coming from the Managing Director of a magazine that is known for its sting operations. Going by your rationale, all the ministers caught taking bribe in your magazine’s sting operations shouldn’t be probed at all. After all it was an ‘internal matter’ between the parties taking and giving bribes. The Vishakha Committee expected you to take ‘action’ as an ’employer’. What did you do?
5. Justice doesn’t always come through police and courts. Really? Why bother doing stories on your favorite Narendra Modi or for that matter anyone who is accused for any crime. Ishrat Jahan case which your magazine so passionately took up shouldn’t concern you anymore since according to your logic justice has little to do with courts. No? We should probably ask all criminals to take a six month break for repentance and come back. No?
6. The incident doesn’t involve Tehelka. Sorry, but it very much does! Quite like how every corruption case concerns Congress/BJP. Don’t you demand answers from the said parties even though those accused in scams are involved in their personal capacity? You can’t just escape!
7. You also said there is ‘another version‘ of the incident and the matter is with the standing committee. Pretty much like there is another version of the Aarushi Talwar murder case where you defend the accused. Forget cases, I see a different version of Shoma Chowdhury in the last three days.
8. Lest I forget, when asked by Nidhi Razdan why Mr. Tejpal was not fired immediately you said ‘We are a small organization and there are financial considerations’. I was shocked when I heard it and couldn’t believe you actually said that! Your efforts of always putting up a high moral ground fall flat. Where did you sell your soul lady? Where are your ethics?
I wonder if we would have ever known about this incident had the Email written not leaked on the internet. You of course had no plans of getting the accused justice as ‘unconditional apology‘ and a ‘six month break’ seemed perfect to you. It takes guts for a sexual assault victim to come out and speak about it. Rather than helping her and setting an example you chose to cover it up. It shows your inability to stand up for someone who needed your support. It shows your intellectual hypocrisy.
As I end, I would like to leave you with something you said some time back;
Heaven or hell is not important. What is important is that how will you face yourself? Remember, this will haunt you always. thInk!
By the way time you change the line that defines your magazine; TEHELKA –
Free, Fair, Fearless FARCE, FARCE, FARCE!