‘TEHELKA has given voice to the voiceless, a space no one was willing to fill’

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We are going through a very disturbing period of distrust among nations, races and communities. In our own country, there are problems abound of terrorism, communal hatred, Maoism, etc, to name a few.

Unfortunately, the issues are being interpreted in ways suitable to vested interests and there have been no notable attempts by people who matter to include the voices of the marginalised. In the past seven to eight years that I have been following its work, TEHELKA, as an institution of journalism, has significantly tried to fill this void.

It has given voice to the voiceless. It has given a platform to those who had no representation. Several people who were stifled got an opportunity to raise their legitimate causes because TEHELKA gave them a chance to do so.

The magazine came as a window to fresh perspective among the cluttered press, and thanks to its brand of courageous journalism, it soon attained respect and credibility. It called a spade a spade and never followed the easy path.

There are several stories that come to mind when one thinks of issues that TEHELKA has pursued with integrity. In the process, it did not stop short of questioning other reports on the same issues if the need arose.

I have myself seen the kind of impact that TEHELKA’s journalism has, its power to bring positive change. This happened during the time when I was discussing the Muzaffarnagar riots with social activist Swami Agnivesh. I was disappointed to hear that he had a certain perception as to the reasons that had caused the riots. But, when we met again a few days later, I was in for a pleasant surprise. He told me that he was mistaken in thinking that the riots had been caused by one community alone. And what had caused this change of heart? A report published in TEHELKA. He told me that when he read it, he realised that faultlines ran deeper, that sections of both communities and their leaders were instrumental in fuelling the clashes. This is the kind of journalism I’m talking about, and TEHELKA has never disappointed.

However, I must admit that I was shocked when I learnt of the recent allegations of sexual harassment levelled against TEHELKA’s editor- in-chief Tarun Tejpal by a female colleague. I do not know the truth behind the incident, but I hope that the law takes the right course and does justice to the aggrieved party in this incident.

Personally, it would pain me to see this incident bring down TEHELKA, the institution. Many among the marginalised and victims of votebank politics will lose their voice if the magazine is not able to carry on. I reiterate that law should be allowed to take its own course in the sexual harassment matter, but until then, the magazine shouldn’t become a victim of a media trial, which a section of the press is surely trying to do. Whatever the outcome of the sexual harassment case, the journalists associated with TEHELKA continue to do unbiased and fearless reporting. I wish them strength.

 As told to Deevakar Anand

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