Hercule Tejpal joins investigations - Protection against arrest till today morning

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By SAMYABRATA RAY GOSWAMI
  • Published 30.11.13
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Dona Paula (Goa), Nov. 29: Jyotirmayee Das today came face to face with a “Hercule Poirot” who looked taller, hairier and greyer but was as well turned out as the detective she had read about.

“I am here to join investigations,” the visitor, nattily dressed in black, flanked by lawyers and escorted by his brother as well as a dozen policemen, declared as he strode into the ramshackle crime branch headquarters in this seaside suburb.

Jyotirmayee, a 19-year-old girl from Assam who was waiting for close to an hour to catch a glimpse of the man, exclaimed: “Join investigations! Who does he think he is, Hercule Poirot?”

For the record, it was Tarun Tejpal, the “recused” Tehelka editor who has been accused of sexually assaulting his colleague.

The hearing on his bail plea has been adjourned till Saturday morning, which means he cannot be arrested till then and the police will have to await the court’s decision. Goa police sources said the court would be requested tomorrow to remand Tejpal for 10 days.

Jyotirmayee, the daughter of a police officer, said: “He should know it is he who is being investigated this time, not the other way round.”

Jyotirmoyee’s friend Rupali Sahu, 21, joined in. “We are so proud of this girl who has complained against him. If something like this happened to us, we would do the same. She has given us courage and shown how this law empowers us.”

The two hotel management students are staying at the Youth Hostel that shares its boundary wall with the crime branch office at Dona Paula. It was around 7.20pm — two hours after Tejpal landed at Goa’s Dabolim airport, an hour’s drive from Dona Paula.

A Goa police team had taken the same flight with him from Delhi, hoping to arrest him as soon as a sessions court hearing Tejpal’s anticipatory bail plea in Panaji pronounced the verdict. But on touchdown, the police found that the court had adjourned the hearing till Saturday morning.

The bail plea, earlier slated to be heard at 11.30 in the morning, had to be deferred as the Goa police counsel could not turn up in court on time.

“We could have arrested Tejpal right on arrival in Goa, but in deference to the court which was hearing his anticipatory bail plea, we decided not to. He lent himself for questioning and we decided to wait for the court’s verdict till tomorrow,” Goa DIG O.P. Mishra told The Telegraph.

Tejpal’s family — his wife Geetan, two daughters, his sister Neena and his brother Minty — were the first to leave the airport in their private vehicles. Minty and Tejpal’s daughters headed to the crime branch office.

Tejpal, accompanied by his lawyers, left later through the airport’s VIP exit in a multi-purpose vehicle, escorted by the police.

Two of Mumbai’s best-known young lawyers — Majid Memon’s son Zulfikar Memon and nephew Pervez Memon — had joined Tejpal’s legal team after a request from a filmmaker to Majid Memon. “Memon sahib is an NCP leader. So he asked Zulfikar to take up the case but he will be behind them. He is holidaying in Kerala,” said a source.

When Tejpal’s car reached the crowded premises of the crime branch office, Minty escorted him in with police help.

The questioning began around 7.50pm. “He answered almost every question by saying ‘I will speak to the court about this’ or ‘my lawyers will give the reply to this’,” said a police source.

Two hours later, Tejpal stepped out. An hour earlier, his daughters, accompanied by lawyer Geeta Luthra, had left the crime branch office for the Tejpal family home in Moira village in north Goa, around 28km from Dona Paula.

Luthra, who was at the sessions court for the larger part of the day presenting Tejpal’s case for anticipatory bail, had named the complainant twice. She was pulled up by the judge and also scolded in another context for trying to “malign” the complainant. Later, Luthra told this reporter that she had inadvertently named the young journalist.

“Tejpal has been very reasonable. He will cooperate with the investigations. He is in Goa. I assure you he is not going to go anywhere,” she said.

After his first session with Goa police, Tejpal was closeted with his lawyers at a five-star hotel till late tonight. “Accompanied by brother Minty, some relatives and his legal team, he headed to the hotel,” said a source who added that Tejpal was scheduled to spend the night at Moira village.