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Indian editor faces police questioning over sex assault charges

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The editor of a top Indian investigative news magazine faced police questioning Saturday over allegations that he sexually assaulted a young woman colleague in a case that has snowballed into a major scandal.

The allegations hit the headlines due to the prominence of Tarun Tejpal, 50, the founder and editor of the magazine, Tehelka, known for its hard-hitting probes into sexual violence against women, corruption and other lawbreaking.

Police in the holiday state of Goa, where the woman was allegedly assaulted twice by Tejpal, began an inquiry Friday into the incident.

A four-member team of Goa police arrived in New Delhi on Saturday "to collect evidence and question the concerned persons", a Delhi police official told AFP.

"We will fully cooperate with the Goa team," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The preliminary enquiry, also known as a First Information Report, allows police to gather evidence in a case and take a suspect into custody for questioning.

Tejpal announced Wednesday he was quitting his editorial functions at Tehelka for six months after the woman's complaint was leaked to the media.

In the written complaint, of which AFP has a copy, the woman said she had known Tejpal since she was a child and described him as a "father figure".

She said the alleged assault took place inside a lift at a hotel where the magazine held a conference last month billed as India's premier intellectual event.

The woman also alleged that when she protested, Tejpal told her "this was the easiest way for you to keep your job".

In Panjim, the director general of Goa police Kishen Kumar said officers had obtained CCTV footage from the venue and were analysing it.

He would not comment on media reports that Tejpal's arrest was imminent.

In a statement sent to AFP on Friday, Tejpal offered to cooperate with police, saying he would present "all the facts of this incident" to them.

Tejpal, who has since hired a top lawyer to represent him, told The Economic Times in a report published Saturday the incident was "consensual" and "fleeting".

Earlier in the week, he had said "a bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation, have led to an unfortunate incident that rails against all we believe in and fight for," in an email sent to Tehelka's managing editor Shoma Chaudhury.

An internal probe is being carried out by Tehelka into the matter.

Violence against women has become a hot-button issue in India since last December's fatal gang rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi.

Tehelka shot to national prominence in 2001 when it carried out a journalistic sting against the then-Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government in which it showed footage of party leaders willing to swing arms deals for cash.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131123/indian-editor-faces-police-questioning-over-sex-assault-charges