NEW DELHI, Nov 24 — The arrest of Tarun Tejpal, the 50-year-old founder of Tehelka news magazine who is accused of sexually assaulting an employee, seemed imminent, Delhi Police sources indicated Saturday, even as the victim claimed that she was being pressurized by people close to him.
A three-member Goa Police team, which arrived in the national capital around 11.30 a.m., reached Tehelka office in south Delhi and scrutinised documents, including on the laptop and I-pad of the magazine’s managing editor Shoma Chaudhury.
The team, which was accompanied by Delhi Police personnel, questioned Chaudhury and some other Tehelka employees.
They also recorded her statement and also took into their possession a string of emails which circulated between her, Tejpal, the victim and her friends as evidence, according to Goa Police sources.
Delhi Police sources said that the Goa Police team can also question Tejpal, and might arrest him, following orders from senior officials of that state’s police force.
Several friends of the victim who were among the first ones to learn about the sexual assault in an elevator at a Goa five star resort last week were also questioned by the police team.
The team is expected to question Tejpal today, even as police sources say that the journalist’s whereabouts are not yet known to the Goa Police.
Earlier in the day, as the Goa Police team left for New Delhi, state Deputy Inspector General of police O.P. Mishra told reporters in Panaji that media reports which suggested that the victim would cooperate with the police investigation was an “encouraging” sign.
“I have seen news in one of the new channels and I do welcome this. This is an encouraging gesture for investigating agency from the victim. But I will not discuss anything,” Mishra told reporters, urging the media to not “concentrate focus of reporting on nitty-gritty of investigation”.
The victim, in her complaint to Chaudhury, said that Tejpal had sexually assaulted her twice in the elevator in the Club House section of the Grand Hyatt five star resort during the high-profile ThinkFest conference on Nov 7-8.
The name of legendary actor Robert De Niro, who participated in the event, also finds inadvertent mention in the Goa Police FIR, a copy of which is in possession of IANS.
“Let’s go wake up Bob (De Niro) and I asked him why he wanted to do that. I then realized that Mr Tejpal was simply pressing buttons on the lift’s panel to make the elevator stay in circuit, preventing it from stopping anywhere, and for the doors to open,” says the FIR quoting from the written complaint sent by the victim to Chaudhury.
De Niro, had in most likely retired for the night in his VIP suite, only a few metres away.
In another reference to De Niro, the victim told Chaudhury in her complaint: “The door opened on the second floor, on Mr. De Niro’s floor – and he (Tejpal) said again – ‘The universe is telling us something’ to which I said ‘I’m taking the stairs’ and started to walk out.
“He pulled me back in, sensing that I was on the verge of hysteria – by this point, he was totally comfortable physically manhandling me, but sensing my sheer panic.”
However, in what could be a setback to the police investigation, Mishra said that the hotel had no CCTVs installed in the elevators.
Tejpal in a statement released Friday has also requested the investigators to “examine and release the CCTV footage so that the accurate version of events stands clearly revealed”.
Sources however said that the CCTV footage does show the victim leaving the elevator “in a hurry” on one occasion.
Mishra also did not rule out bringing Tehelka’s alleged attempts to cover up the crime in the ambit of the investigation.
Meanwhile, reports quoting the victim claimed that the accused Tejpal’s well-wishers had gotten in touch with her and had started “pressurising her”.
The victim is daughter of a former colleague of Tejpal, who has recused himself from his post as editor after being accused of sexual assault by the victim.
The matter came to light after intra-office communication between Tejpal, Chaudhury and the victim was leaked to the media last week, even as Chaudhury has been accused of trying to hush up the matter.–IANS