Exactly a year ago the fate of Indian journalist, publisher, novelist and former editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine Tarun Tejpal had come crumbling down after a woman colleague alleged that she had been raped by him. The news received maximum coverage and media scrutiny due to the sensitivity of the matter and especially because Tejpal and his magazine had previously been involved in highlighting the issue of sexual violence in India, including in a special issue on the topic in February, 2013.
But after a year, Tarun who is now out on a bail, is getting back to his normal life. He has been invited by the Times Group to be their guest on two occasions at the Times Literary Festival in Mumbai next month. On day one, he will moderate a session in which senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani will discuss his memoirs “A Rebel.” On day two, he would be a part of a panelist in a session named “The Tyranny of Power” along with Mani Shankar Aiyar, Basharat Peer with Manu Joseph moderating. Ironically, the theme of the festival this year is “Power as Hero and Villain.”
In an email message to Scroll, festival director Bachi Karkaria said that the panel is part of the event’s overarching theme of Power as Hero and Villain. “Tarun’s Masques deals precisely with this,” she explained. “The panel has nothing to do with his personal case. We are aware that this issue is sub judice, Tarun is not convicted and is out on bail. The case is not going to form any part of the discussion, and we have always found Tarun to be an articulate panelist.”
While a certain section of the media is ready to keep Tarun’s personal life aside and move on, social media specifically Twitter, has seen a backlash over the invitation sent by TOI. Tarun Tejpal has been trending on Twitter from the start of the day, leading to a growing discussion on whether he should be invited by TOI or are we as a society becoming hypocrites by shaming one and leaving other guilty popular faces.
Definitely by sending an invitation, TOI has created a much-needed buzz for the festival on social media. I wonder if someone from the audience will ask Tarun on how he flexed his muscle or showed his tyranny of power to suppress the voice of the rape victim.
Listed below are some of the most defining tweets capturing user reactions:
Ironically Tarun Tejpal is speaking on the “Tyranny of Power” a subject former Tehelka employees surely know a lot about. Wow.
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) November 22, 2021
Tarun Tejpal & David Davidar are speaking at TimesLitFest 2014. Quite the endorsement for sexual harassment at the workplace… — TSK (@TanmeiKamath) November 22, 2021
Tarun Tejpal invited to litfest and soon life will be normal. Shoma Chaudhury should also restart tweeting. All is forgotten mam, come back. — Rahul Roushan (@rahulroushan) November 22, 2021
Amazing that in India you can be on trial for rape, like Tarun Tejpal, and even while out on bail you can be on the panel of a ‘lit fest’ ! — HindolSengupta (@HindolSengupta) November 22, 2021
Tarun Tejpal for litfest because in our country Barkha Dutt is a journalist, Imam Bukhari is Islamic scholar & Sanjay Jha an intellectual.
— Finger of India (@IndiaFinger) November 22, 2021
Tarun Tejpal is sharing the stage with Mani Shanker Aiyar. So its really difficult to say, who should be more embarrassed among the two. — IndiaSpeaks (@IndiaSpeaksPR) November 22, 2021
In the Idea of India Conclave he appeared through video link. Now at Times litfest, see Tarun Tejpal in person. Nice. pic.twitter.com/NkegdGmxVf — Anand Ranganathan (@ARangarajan1972) November 22, 2021
TOI editor is Sagarika Ghose and TOI lit fest chief guest will be Tarun Tejpal. She would have protested against him if he is from RightWing — 0mar Abdullah (@abdullah_0mar) November 22, 2021
Tarun Tejpal invited to TOI litfest? Whats next? Al-Baghdadi invited to a Carnatic music concert? Some people have no sense of shame!
— Kiran Kumar Karlapu (@scarysouthpaw) November 22, 2021
In case of Tarun Tejpal, “Do not use LIFT, use STAIRS” In the Public interest. #TejpalReturns pic.twitter.com/2GNOARCJnw — Darpan (@supportnmforpm) November 22, 2021
What? Is this some kind of a sick joke? Tarun Tejpal is on a panel of #ToiLitFest? This is the “Liberal” definition of feminism & justice? — Smita Barooah (@smitabarooah) November 22, 2021
Inviting Tarun Tejpal for litfest once again reveals @timesofindia‘s character as earlier. #hypocrisy @anilkohli54 pic.twitter.com/3fln87xs7d — Onkar Pandey (@pandey_onkar) November 22, 2021
Have we forgotten: Tarun Tejpal to re-emerge via a lit fest in #Mumbai http://t.co/8VMZ18Xlmh … #MediaInContext
— Chitra Subramaniam (@chitraSD) November 23, 2021
Arnab Goswani raged nonstop against Tarun Tejpal. He’ll share space with him at #TimesLitFest. He so clever, @timesnow viewers such idiots. — Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) November 23, 2021
ToI was so impressed with Tarun Tejpal’s activity at THiNK Fest that they decided to make him TOI’s special guest at LitFest..Fest hi Fest — Paresh Rawal (@Babu_Bhaiyaa) November 23, 2021
Dear Arnab, The nation demands to know when are you going to do a debate on the ethics of TOI inviting Tarun Tejpal to its Lit Fest — The Bad Doctor (@doctoratlarge) November 23, 2021
The other side:
Funny to see BJP trolls led by a murder accused @AmitShahOffice & rapist minister in cabinet of #Saheb @narendramodi rant at Tarun Tejpal!
— Suryanarayan Ganesh (@gsurya) November 24, 2021
Don’t think you can stop Tarun Tejpal from being invited to speak at an event. You can however choose not to go
— Ashwin Mushran (@ashwinmushran) November 24, 2021
If we have a Union Minister, accused of Rape, absconding, Police ‘Unable to trace’, u can’t blame Times for calling Tarun Tejpal to LitFest — Joy (@Joydas) November 23, 2021
Image credit: Newslaundry