TOI Litfest’s Invitation To Rape Accused Tarun Tejpal Causes Backlash On Twitter

TOI has invited Tehelka Ex-editor and rape accused Tarun Tejpal to the Times Literary Festival, leading to a massive trending backlash on Twitter

Tarun Tejpal

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:

The other side:

Image credit: Newslaundry