We make reports on rape cases, some of the cases go hyped, but when our own fraternity gets accused of heinous crimes like rape and molestation, we try to shy away from bringing out the truth. A rape by journalists is not new, there are many journalists who are accused of rape cases and some of them faced jailed terms. It is painful to pen down but I want to be unbiased.
These days most talked about rape case is ET Now anchor and analyst Varun Hiremath is hiding after a 22-year-old woman lodged a complaint at Chanakyapuri police station earlier this week, accusing him of rape. Hiremath is the son of a Mumbai-based businessman. It has been three days since the FIR was registered. Hiremath has been charged with sections 376 (punishment of offence of rape), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), and 509 (word, gesture, or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code. The woman has alleged that she and Hiremath met on the morning of February 21 at Delhi’s Khan Market and went to a hotel in Chanakyapuri. During the initial probe, police found that the two had known each other for the last three years. The complaint reads, “I met the accused at a restaurant… where the accused had wine, and I did not consume any alcohol. Following that, the accused asked me to accompany him to his hotel, where he was staying with his family. However, at this juncture, it is crucial to emphasise that I had only agreed to spend time to chat and catch up with the accused, and at no point of time was this indication of willingness or consent to engage in any sexual activity let alone intercourse.” The complaint states that before he took her to the room, Hiremath had told her that he would “annihilate” her in the hotel room after which the complainant categorically told him that this would not happen and that she was only there to catch up with him. The complainant also mentioned that she was afraid of sustaining grievous injuries in case she tried to escape. After the alleged incident, the woman went home. She lodged a formal complaint with the police two days later.
In 2020, an all-women police station team in Chennai arrested a television reporter in connection with the case in which a 13-year-old girl was pushed into prostitution by a relative and sexually assaulted multiple times. The journalist, 39-year-old Vinoba G, was the 16th accused to be arrested in that case. Earlier, the girl’s six relatives, a police inspector, a BJP functionary, a few brokers as well as men who raped her over a period of two months were arrested. Vinoba lent money for interest to the main accused Madhan and his sister Sandhya and is very close to them. It is through that link that he sexually assaulted the 13-year-old girl three times in a period of two months, including inside the office of the BJP functionary. The 13-year-old girl from Perumbakkam was sent by her mother to her niece’s house in Vyasarpadi where she was allegedly first raped by niece’s second husband Madhan before she was pushed into the flesh trade. Six relatives of the victim were arrested in the case. They had allegedly colluded with various brokers in the flesh trade to send the child to them at a weekly package of Rs 1.5 lakh. The brokers then allegedly invited their regular customers to sexually assault the girl. Police said a few more men will be arrested in the case.
Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV Assam correspondent Anirudha Bhakat Chutia has been accused by a Guwahati-based woman of kidnapping and physically assaulting her. An FIR was registered against Chutia at Guwahati’s Dispur Police Station on 1st December 2020 on the basis of the woman’s complaint. He was in police custody for two days before being released. Chutia lived in a lane next to her home and that they had met previously a couple of times, strictly on professional terms. She alleges that on the night of December 1, while returning from work she encountered Chutia — who was allegedly drunk and was accompanied by an unidentified man — in a secluded lane in the Six Mile area of Guwahati. He was drunk, stopped her to talk, and before she could react, he and that man dragged her into their house on the lane by putting a knife near her neck. After being forcefully taken into the house (located in an adjacent area named Jayanagar), she claims her hands were tied to a chair. When she resisted, he also sexually assaulted her. His mother was also present in the room and abetted him. Once her hands were set free, she took out her mobile phone, which was on silent mode, and called her colleagues who rescued her from a house in the Joynagar area.
Hope you all remember much-hyped Tarun J. Tejpal, an investigative journalist and Tehelka editor, raping and sexually assaulting a staff reporter during a November encounter in a hotel elevator. The case sent tremors through journalistic circles in India, where Tejpal, who has edited the magazine Tehelka, is known as a crusader for liberal causes and enjoys celebrity status. It also came after a year of intense scrutiny on the problem of sexual violence, and it will be among one of the first prosecutions under a set of tough, newly amended laws passed during a season of public outrage. Investigators in the case filed a 12-volume, 2,846-page charge sheet, which included testimony from 152 witnesses. Tejpal was charged with “outraging the modesty of a woman,” sexual harassment, wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, rape, rape by a person in a position of trust or authority, and rape by a person in a position of control or dominance. He was convicted and jailed.
The recent case is of former Journalist and Member of Parliament MJ Akbar, who has been accused of rape by a US-based journalist who has worked with him over 20 years ago. Akbar earlier stepped down as union cabinet minister over several sexual harassment allegations against him. Akbar’s lawyer told the Washington Post that the politician has denied the allegations as false by the US-based journalist. Pallavi Gogoi, who is an editor at the National Public Radio (NPR), wrote in her article on The Washington Post that she joined Asian Age at the age of 22 when Akbar was the Editor-In-Chief. Pallavi was made the editor of the op-ed page at the age of 23, but she didn’t know that was going to change her life forever. A few months later, Akbar again assaulted Pallavi in a room at Taj hotel in Mumbai. She resisted him and ran crying. Describing the horrific incident, Pallavi wrote, “In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?”
The above are few examples, but there are hundreds of such cases which go unreported.