Saturday, November 30, 2013

The sad saga of Tarun Tejpal....

.This appeared in Mumbai Mirror today. Before the arrest...
                   Uneasy lies the head….
There was no escaping the word ‘uneasy’ this week. Too many awful things were taking place at  around the same time. The required mental space to absorb these rapid and sordid developments , was missing. The unease was caused on two levels – professional and personal. While I don’t know the Talwars,  I have  followed the grisly  five-year-old murder trial of Aarushi, their teenage daughter, in her own bed. What was a mystery back then, remains a mystery till today. Yes, even after the parents have been convicted of the crime ( life sentences for the double murders – Aarushi’s and  that of their domestic help, Hemraj). Then there was the equally disturbing Tarun Tejpal case, with all its bizarre twists and turns. No grisly murder here, except for the murder of several reputations. Trouble is, I know Tejpal. Not all that well. But certainly as a social friend, who has been to our home ( I have not been to his). We also have several friends in common, which was certainly not the case with the Talwars. The difficult questions  people in media were asking themselves last week were these : If you know someone  enough to invite them home, share a couple of meals with them and interact in an amiable way when paths crossed, how  difficult  is it to comment publicly on what has undoubtedly become one of the most high profile sexual harassment cases in recent times? The frank answer is ‘Very!” It is indeed very difficult to put your opinion on the line and say it like it is. But then again, is it fair to stay out of the dialogue because of this reason? To me, the answer is obvious: “No”. You don’t step out of something that is far bigger than the individual involved. You don’t stay silent when the issue is this important. Once the young journalist’s letter was leaked, everything  became fair game. Discourses on the mess raged across television channels and countless social media platforms. The mess got messier.  Especially after the far-from-dexterous handling of the crisis by a gang one can dismissively call ‘Friends of Tarun’. The dated idea of  ‘dog doesn’t eat dog’, combined with the even sillier institution of  the Old Boys’ Club showing public solidarity for one of their own, exacerbated the issue still further, making all those chaps bleating away on panel discussions , look rather foolish. The case being what it is, cannot be convincingly defended, even by Tejpal’s most loyal drinking buddies. They tried! But all they got for their show of loyalty was derision and sneering (“ Birds of a feather…”). Especially after Tejpal did an about turn and slandered the victim.
The Talwars had it tougher. The only people to put up a pretty spirited and valiant defense on their behalf were family members and their lawyer. The Talwars were pretty isolated by the time the verdict came in. And regardless of whether there is a section of society that still believes in their innocence, for all practical purposes, it’s now a dead story. Even though we still don’t know for sure who did it and why (murder weapon missing, motive not established). Both these Delhi-based stories packed a powerful emotional punch. Which is also why nobody could remain neutral or uninvolved in the debates that followed. In both cases, the targets were young, vulnerable girls. One is dead. The other is courageously fighting on. Something is terribly wrong. And drawing conclusions becomes that much harder when you know the accused. In this instance, Tejpal. It also makes one wonder whether one can really ‘know’ someone. To all those fellows standing by Tarun, and willingly sticking their necks out for him, my sympathies. They sound just as loutish as Tarun. But that’s entirely their prerogative. But for all those men and women who have stood by the victim from the word go – now, that takes guts. Loyalty is definitely a cherished virtue in these fickle times. But surely truth and fair play stand for much more?
I can hear the laughter of the men defending Tejpal as they as they order another round of beer at their favourite club. I can hear them say, “What’s the big deal? It was just another elevator encounter….like so many other similar encounters. Poor Tarun!”
Poor Tarun, is right. But NOT in the way his cronies mean it. And poor Talwars, too.

Moral bankruptcy is a great leveler…. and spares nobody. As no doubt Tejpal and the Talwars have discovered.


Rajesh Asarpota said...

Fact does remain that whether a Tejpal or a Talwar, the higher strata of the society consider themselves personnel, not touchable. They do what they want, in thier hidden lives, many living sleazily, but yet, the world adordes them.

Mainly because of the money. If Tejpal was to loose all his moolah, there would be no one standing next to him. Forget that, he would be off people's calendars. So, who blames who?

Latha said...

1. Aarushi murder case was closed by the CBI for lack of evidence when the Talwars forced them to reopen it to get justice for their daughter. They insisted on the DNA & other various tests much to the dismay of the CBI sleuths. No criminal would do that, would heave a sigh of relief if the case is closed. 2. The whole case was built brick by brick on the assumptive motive that AArushi would've been seen in a compromising position with the 45 yr old servant Hemraj. It is the worst kind of character assassination of a 14 yr old teen who was brutally murdered. The CBI has not corroborated this assumption with any evidence. Though there could not be a forced entry, a friendly entry could've been possible if Hemraj had opened the door for his friends. These are the arguments put forward by the relatives of the Talwars.

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Anonymous said...

I will quote Mahatma Gandhi, Shobhaa! During a morally wrong mating of a man and a woman a few minor drops of a certain liquid are their climax, but what do they lead to, eventually? The father of the nation reportedly asked someone, something to this effect. So, the smallest of mistakes can lead to a catastrophe later.

Three things have indeed happened, in case someone did not notice in the matter concerning Tejpal.

[1] The world has overlooked the imbroglio over what Modi and his flunkey had done with regard to a woman whose identify is being kept a secret - even by that shady bureaucrat who admitted in writing to be a pimp.

[2] This leads one to think someone did his/her/their home work to use the Tejpal thing to divert attention from the Modi issue. The reluctance of those who knew the identity of the girl shows that either the shady guy is scared or scarred or worse, sold. The rotten, stinking side of the racket hasn't come out so far, so it never will. Even the threat of an inquiry made by Sushil Shinde is mere hot air.

[3] The worst case scenario is - just suppose, there was a steamy side to what Modi had in his affair and ends up saying: "A woman much lesser to me in age got infatuated. Upon her father's request, I talked some sense into the girl, tried sending her to some places to divert her attention in some projects. Meanwhile, I had her watched like a hawk because I did not want the name of her good family spoint. Finally, she has settled down and is happy in family. So God bless her. I am not a young, flamboyant and physically strong Casanova like Shehzzada Rahul or someone like Tarun Tejpal. The latter preacher of propriety perforce forced himself on a young girl in a lift. Purely, on the above count, I admit to using the state machinery to safeguard the honour of a woman and plead guilty." That would put paid to all the bad press against Modi and what is worse, women will begin swooning over him. In some of the telly pictures, I can already see that happening!

Incidentally, I had written about Aarushi's parents being the guilty ones long, long, long ago. Here is the link:

Aditya said...

Great Article Mam!!!

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