Indian editor Tarun Tejpal steps down over sex assault allegations

Tarun Tejpal Mr Tejpal is also an acclaimed author

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The editor of a top Indian magazine has stepped down from his position temporarily over allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman colleague.

Tarun Tejpal, who edits the weekly Tehelka, said he was "recusing" himself from his job for the next six months to "atone" for an "unfortunate incident".

A confidante of the alleged victim has said she was subjected to "an act of grave sexual misconduct".

Mr Tejpal said the complaint had been "honourably addressed and redressed".

The alleged incident happened in Goa recently where the magazine held an annual conclave attended by newsmakers and celebrities from around the world.

Mr Tejpal said a "bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for".

He said he had "already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further".

Smita Mishra from the Indian Women's Press Corps says the Media is "outraged" that criminal charges have not been made

The alleged victim's unidentified confidante told the NDTV news channel that the woman had been subjected to "an act of grave sexual misconduct" and that 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 confidante said.

She said Tehelka magazine should set up a committee to investigate allegations of sexual harassment.

The woman had complained to Shoma Chaudhury, managing editor of the magazine, about the alleged incident.

Angry reaction

Mr Tejpal told the BBC that "there was a complaint and it has been most honourably addressed and redressed".

"I am voluntarily recusing myself as editor for six months," he said.

Women activists and journalists reacted angrily on social media, demanding an independent inquiry into the incident.

"This crisis is the time for all media houses to set up sexual harassment committees. Mr Tejpal can show good faith, repentance by submitting to such [a] committee," leading lawyer Karuna Nundy tweeted.

Last week India's Supreme Court set up a panel to investigate a law graduate's allegation that she had been sexually harassed by a recently retired Supreme Court judge.

The graduate, Stella James, posted a blog earlier this month describing how the judge had assaulted her in a Delhi hotel room.

The charges caused shock, particularly as the alleged assault reportedly took place at a time when the country was witnessing huge protests over the fatal gang rape of a student in Delhi.

That case forced the Indian government to strengthen its sexual violence laws.

Tehelka was a high profile entrant into the Indian new media market in 2000 as a news website, and soon earned a reputation for its racy, often controversial style of investigative journalism.

It caused a sensation in March 2001 when it released secretly recorded videotapes showing army officers and politicians accepting bribes from journalists posing as arms dealers.

The arms bribery story came shortly after the website released secretly recorded conversations by leading cricket stars on match-fixing.

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