Monthly Archives: November 2013

Network 18’s right-wing swing on Caravan cover

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The December issue of Caravan magazine has a 16-page cover story on how the Raghav Bahl founded Network 18 has taken a turn towards right-wing politics after its takeover by Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries.

Headlined ‘The Network Effect’ and written by Rahul Bhatia, who authored the Arnab Goswami profile last year, the article chronicles a number of instances to underline the group’s rightward lurch.

# First Post editor-in-chief R. Jagannathan began attending Forbes India meetings in February 2013 as part of a planned integration.

“Glancing at a sheet of paper he had arrived with, Jagannathan yelled: ‘You’re doing it wrong. Forbes is about the wealthy. It’s about right-wing politics. You guys are writing about development and poverty. If you guys don’t get it, I’m going to make sure that you do.”

***

# “Last year, CNBC TV18’s Vivian Fernandes, who co-wrote Raghav Bahl’s book, was despatched to interview Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. A person involved with the production of the interview recalled that Fernandes asked a difficult question about water conservation in Gujarat.

“Modi’s organisers had asked to see the questions before the interview, and demanded the water conservation question’s removal.

“When Fernandes sprung it on him anyway, Modi broke away from the camera and glared at a public relations executive in the room.

“‘Why is he talking like this?’ the person recalled Modi saying. ‘Are we not paying for this interview?'” The production crew realised that the interview was part of a promotion for Modi.”

***

# “In the weeks leading up to the group’s first Think India conference in April, Raghav Bahl told his management that he wanted to start a foundation called Think Right.

“CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai and deputy editor Sagarika Ghose, objected to the name, believing that it was certain to be misinterpreted. ‘they believed that ‘right’ would come to mean Hindutva, you know?’ a person involved in the discussions said.

***

# “‘There was a concerted effort to drive a large visible campaign to prop up Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Think India platform,’ former Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta said.

Each channel, publication and website had to carry promotional material of some kind. ‘They wanted a Modi cover story from Forbes India.'”

***

# At the group’s senior management getaway in Macau in early 2013, “the editors’ mood sank further when Raghav Bahl let the large gathering know he favoured Narendra Modi as India’s next prime minister.

“Until last year, Rajdeep was the most important person here. Now after Mr Ambani, Modi is the most important person.'”

“I spoke to the editor again in the middle of November. ‘It’s serious. They have started putting indirect pressure on editors to not criticise Narendra Modi,’ the editor said. ‘I think Think India was created to promote him.'”

***

# “Early on November 9, Rajdeep Sardesai travelled to Nagpur to meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Two senior editors in touch with Sardesai independently confirmed that Raghav Bahl had pressed him to meet Bhagwat and other RSS leaders.

“‘Raghav is keen on promoting right-of-centre policies. He believes Indians have enterprise in our blood,’ the person involved in the decision over the Think India foundation’s naming said.”

***

# “Network 18 is not alone in its rightward swing, but as Modi’s value in the attention econmy continues to rise, no one in English-language broadcasting has traded more on his appeal than CNN-IBN.

“For four days in October and November 2013, the Centre for Media Studies, an independent thinktank in Delhi, monitored the primetime political coverage of some major English news channels.

“Of the five they surveyed, CNN-IBN covered Modi for over 72 minutes, a greater duration than anyone else. At the same time, it covered Rahul Gandhi for approximately 18 minutes.”

Also read: ‘Media’s Modi-fixation needs medical attention’

How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feast, a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is effective TRP

Not just a newspaper, a no-paid-news newspaper!

Pati, patni and the Editor who was the ‘woh’

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Sunanda K-Datta-Ray, former editor of The Statesman, in the Business Standard:

“A media that sits in judgement on the world must itself be blameless.

W.T. Stead, the famous English journalist who once edited the Northern Echo and who is credited with inventing investigative journalism, grandly told a Royal Commission, ‘The simple faith of our forefathers in the All-Seeing Eye of God has departed from the Man in the Street. Our only modern substitute for Him is the Press.’

“Some of India’s best-known newspaper magnates have been megalomaniacs without Stead’s talent. But no modern working journalist would be so pretentious though I can think of a non-working journalist editor who used equally bombastic language about himself.

“What was infinitely worse was that behind the mask of pious crusader rampaged a grasping womaniser who left the institution of which he acquired control virtually bankrupt. One thinks of another editor who sacked a junior when the latter’s wife who was his mistress (with her husband’s acquiescence) took up with another man.

“In a third case, revenue officials were disconcerted to discover that the cash donations a businessman they were watching made every month and recorded in his private diary were not to a leading politician but an editor with the same initials. I wouldn’t add open political affiliation as another sin but a paper’s politics is often surreptitious and paid for.”

Read the full column: The media as Caesar‘s wife

Aroon Purie and Vinod Mehta on Tarun Tejpal

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As former Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal faces imminent arrest for the alleged sexual assault of a junior employee at a conclave organised by the magazine, two veteran editors—Aroon Purie of India Today and Vinod Mehta of Outlook*—write about the callow Chandigarh boy who branched out to become a brand.

At India Today, Tejpal was in-charge of the books pages and at Outlook, he was the features editor who briefly became managing editor.

The latest issue of India Today has Tarun Tejpal on the cover with the headline “Disgrace” (above), while Outlook has a cover-corner, on “Tehelka after Tarun”.

***

Aroon Purie, editor-in-chief of India Today:

“Tarun Tejpal worked in this magazine 25 years ago for six years. Dare I say I liked him. He was a talented writer and knew it. In today’s terms, a ‘real dude’.

“Even at the age of 25 when I interviewed him for the job of a senior sub-editor he had an intellectual swagger about him and unabashed literary ambitions…. When he resigned in July 1994, Tarun was honest enough to say that there ere “only so many essays and reviews I can churn out before ennui drowns me.

“Everyone has their own theory on why a man of such intellect, talent and success ended up being charged with sexual assault. Mine is a simple one. It is the ‘God’ complex which I have seen in so many talented men. They reach such heights of success that they live in their own world and think the normal rules of social behaviour don’t apply to them, neither do the laws of the land.”

Vinod Mehta, editorial chairman, Outlook*:

“TarunTejpal was my deputy at Outlook for nearly six years. Professionally, his contribution to the magazine was immense….

“To say I do not endorse Tarun’s conduct would make me sound like a lunatic.  How can I, even tangentially, defend sexual molestation? Tarun has committed a horrific blunder and compounded it with clumsy efforts to vilify the victim….

“The abuse of power in the media, especially in the higher echelons, is rampant. Editors sexually exploit and harass trainees and junior staff with a crudity which is unbelievably cynical. The threat is always the same: if the girl “cooperates” she not only keeps her job but enjoys rapid promotion. If she doesn’t she is shown the door.

“It is the worst kept secret in our profession but it dare not speak its name. Some of the biggest luminaries in Indian journalism stand accused. Who they are is known both inside and outside the trade. The shameful silence needs to be broken.”

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in Indian media?

Online petition to protect Tehelka journalist’s privacy

Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’

Tarun Tejpal: Fear and self-loathing in Goa

***

Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Tarun Tejpal: Hubris and self-loathing in Goa

Tunku Varadarajan in the Daily Beast on l’affaire Tarun J. Tejpal:

“What made Tarun Tejpal do this?” everyone asks. Some answers suggest themselves, the most unsettling of which is that, for all his rhetoric in the cause of women, Tejpal is, perhaps, just another unreconstructed, predatory Indian male who was playing the part of PC editor for commercial effect.

“A more complex explanation might be that his assault on his young reporter was the result of self-loathing: The “Think” festival in Goa is an ambitious affair, of a piece with Tejpal’s growing sense of himself as a media entrepreneur who has outgrown the relatively modest confines of Tehelka.

“To bankroll his new dimensions, the once-crusading editor has to go cap in hand to sponsors, some reportedly rather unsavory, with questionable civic records. This, surely, has had a corrosive effect on Tejpal and his self-image. None of this explains attempted rape, but it could explain the astonishing absence of moral guardrails and the alleged exercise of dominance as salve.

I’ve begged from the powerful, now I’ll take from the vulnerable.”

Read the full article: The fall of India’s conscience

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in Indian media?

Online petition to protect Tehelka journalist’s privacy

Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’

***

Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

‘Tarun Tejpal was trapped in a skin not his own’

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Former Outlook* publisher, Maheshwar Peri, who now runs Pathfinder Media, the magazine company which publishes Careers 360, on his friend and former colleague Tarun J. Tejpal**.

***

MaheshPeri

By MAHESH PERI

The stupidity of our nation gets greatly exposed with the extreme reactions to Tarun J. Tejpal—the cult following of his journalism at one end, and the lynch mobs baying for his blood, following the outing of his sexual escapades, at the other.

Tarun comes across as a sexual predator, on the prowl, in search of his next victim. He used his power and influence over young women half his age. The girl is his daughter’s friend and his friend’s daughter.

However, this should not take away some of the most seminal work that the journalists of Tehelka have done over the years.

***

Tarun’ s story in itself is an alchemy of desire. He was like most of us: chirpy, fun-loving, naughty. However, post Tehelka, he donned the robe of a saint. He became preachy and started espousing causes that he never stood for and never could.

He was nothing that the nation started acknowledging him for.

He was a normal guy with all the flaws, fallacies and weaknesses.

It was a facade he had to put on for the survival of Tehelka, which was losing money, each year. Only the power exuded by Tehelka could make it viable.

He glorified himself when not due. He “owned” the company when the money came from others. He acted the hero while he was just a team member.The existence of Tehelka is not just because of Tarun.

Tehelka exists because of:

1) The financial contributions of many citizens, celebrities and most importantly [the banker] Shankar Sharma, and,
2) The work of Aniruddha Bahal and Ashish Khetan.

If Tarun’s lofty objective was to start a not-for-profit free and aggressive media enterprise, he could have made all contributors as shareholders. He crowd-funded Tehelka but did not part with ownership. The new shareholders include K.D. Singh, a Trinamul Congress MP, who bought his way into Rajya Sabha.

Any intelligent person should have cried foul then.

It is too late now.

***

Sometime in 2009 when my fledgling publication wrote against an educational institution with doubtful credentials, we got into a lot of trouble.

Editors like Aditya Sinha (New Indian Express), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times), Shekhar Gupta (Indian Express) personally supported us.

We were going through multiple cases and draining all our resources.

When Tehelka decided to do a story to the subject, we were too happy. Who can espouse the cause of investigative journalism better? Only till we got the questions from the journalist. We realised that it was a story being done on behalf of the institution to throw insinuations at us.

I was very upset because I knew Tarun personally but for him, it didn’t matter. We responded professionally, sticking to facts. I dared them to do a story despite the facts. It was no coincidence that the dubious institution is Tehelka‘s biggest advertiser taking all its back covers.

The story never appeared, because our response didn’t leave any gaps. And the owner of the institution was at the THINK fest in Goa, rubbing shoulders with the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal and gained access to a ministry that should have punished him.

Kapil Sibal later attended a special screening of a movie produced by this institution, and the picture was advertised/showcased all over to unsuspecting parents and students. For me, THINK became a place which conducted an orgy over social issues.

I stopped following it.

***

This is not just about Tarun.

It is about abuse of power, by a journalist, an editor and a man. A self-styled messiah. Each time, they believe they can get away with unfair demands, they push the envelope further.

People in power with no humility can destroy like nothing else. The desires, fantasies and a coterie is a very potent combination.Tarun is a victim of his own facade, fantasies and greed. He was never what he was portrayed, then and now. He was never a saint and neither can he be a rapist.

He is trapped in a skin not his own. We couldn’t stop people from hailing him as God, as much as we cannot stop them from calling him a devil.

Alas. It is too late now.

* Disclosures apply

** This comment was first posted by the author on Facebook

Photographs: courtesy Karamchand Jena, and Campaign India

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in Indian media?

Online petition to protect Tehelka journalist’s privacy

***

Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Online appeal to protect Tehelka journo’s privacy

The following is the full text of an online appeal to protect the privacy of the Tehelka journalist whose complaint against the magazine’s editor Tarun J. Tejpal resulted in his “offer” to recuse himself from office for six months.

To all editors, journalists, bloggers, users of social media, and the public:

Some websites and blogs are posting the Tehelka journalist’s complaint to the magazine’s management or reproducing parts of it, perhaps with the intent to expose a grave act of sexual assault by a man occupying a powerful position.

However, in doing so, they are violating basic ethical and legal injunctions on the way cases of sexual assault must be reported.

The journalist’s complaint to her company is a private document and not a public one.

While private documents can be leaked in the ‘public interest’, this principle is applicable to the emails of Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury sent to Tehelka staffers, not to the journalist’s emailed complaint.

In cases of sexual assault, it is a well established principle that the media can name the perpetrator, but not the victim.

The identity and privacy of a victim must be protected at all costs.

We are distressed that many people are circulating the journalist’s emails, and other journalists, bloggers and users of social media are publishing it in parts or whole.

Some have argued that the leaked email has exposed the gravity of the assault, which justifies it coming into the public domain.

While we are determined to report violence against women, we also believe in doing it sensitively.

It is possible to report and comment on sexual crimes without providing explicit accounts that cause additional distress to the victim.

While we stand behind the journalist in her courageous fight, let her choose how she wants her experience reported in public.

In the past week, the journalist has, through her friends, requested several times that her privacy and dignity be protected and that her personal email not be shared.

Please remember that the woman’s private email may be used only with her written consent.

We request all users of social and mainstream media to refrain from infringing on a woman’s privacy.

We request those who have posted such content to remove it immediately. Let us be sensitive as we extend support to the journalist.

If you wish to support the petition, please email reportresponsibly.india@gmail.com

Link via Supriya Sharma

POLL: Is sexual harassment rampant in media?

Shocking and disgraceful as it is, l’affaire Tarun J. Tejpal is sadly not the only incident of a sexual predator lurking around Indian newsrooms.  Except that,  in this case, a brave journalist—and her equally brave colleagues—broke the code of omerta and let the world know what was happening.

But Delhi is not India, one magazine is not the media. In an exploding media ecosystem, there are hundreds of newspapers, magazines and TV stations across the country, where the demographic profile of journalists is undergoing a paradigm shift.

From where one routinely hears of women journalists are having to silently stomach the indignity of their male bosses for better compensation, better work opportunities, etcetera. We are not talking of consensual relationships here.

However, most of these stories are in the realm of rumour and speculation.  What then is the reality? Is sexual harassment at the media workplace rampant in India? Have you heard of, seen or experienced it personally? How difficult is it for women journalists to stand up and obtain justice?

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Life yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

10 reasons why ‘The Hindu’ returned to its past

N. Ram, chairman of Kasturi & Sons Limited and the former editor of The Hindu, on why the “family” reverted to its past after a brief flirtation with “professionals”, in an interview with Shougat Dasgupta of Tehelka:

“Editorialising in news reports, editorialising in the guise of news, which is strictly prohibited by the binding code of editorial values adopted by the Board of Directors of our company in 2011 and displayed on the home page of The Hindu‘s website.

“The Editor being away from our headquarters and most important edition centre and market, Chennai, far too often and far too long, sometimes for events in India and abroad that were peripheral, or completely unrelated, to the work of the newspaper.

“Weakening local coverage in key edition centres, especially our home base, and undertaking campaign journalism.

“Going for a surfeit of personalised columns at the expense of news coverage when space was under great pressure and pagination was being reduced.

“A lack of attention to detail and a failure to put in place an orderly system of editorial decision-making, which was aggravated by the fact that the Editor was frequently away from the headquarters.

“Letting strongly held personal opinions and prejudices get in the way of professional news coverage, so that it became impossible to keep the necessary professional distance in covering and presenting the news.

“Going for ‘soft design’ – chaotic, loud, sometimes garish, lacking any internal consistency or logic – and virtually doing away with the pure design that Mario Garcia, one of the world’s leading newspaper designers, and his team, working with our designers, had put in place for us.

“Making a number of inappropriate or maladroit editorial appointments, which culminated in the appointment of a totally unsuitable Executive Editor in the national capital.

“Resentment grew in some of our major news bureaus and a divide began to appear between the long-timers, who had spent decades of their professional lives with our newspaper and were familiar with its core values, and some of the higher-paid new-comers, often for no fault of the latter.”

Read the full interview: Family vs outsider

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu

Also read: In family-owned paper, only furniture is fixed

The Hindu issue is more complex than you think’

Hindu‘ family chucks out ‘professional’ redesign

The Hindu situation had become irremediable’

The Hindu redesign was a mishmash, an eyesore’

Lift yourselves up, dearie, or get into my elevator

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Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal receiving the IPI Award for Excellence in Journalism for 2010, from Union minister Veerappa Moily.

Tehelka editor Tarun J. Tejpal‘s 312-word letter to managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, expressing his “offer to step down” and not attend office for six months following a “bad lapse of judgement, an awful misreading of the situation” with a younger female colleague, has received plenty of negative acclaim for its sheer lack of contrition.

Inspired by the high-falutin’ prose of the non-apology apology and non-resignation resigntion, B.V. Rao, former editor of the Indian Express in Bangalore and Bombay, and currently editor of Governance Now, attempts his own apology-cum-resignation to the staff of the apocryphal newspaper, Dhamaka.

***

Dear All,

It is a sad day when our organs threaten to bring down the organisations we erect. That sad day has visited upon Dhamaka.

I am devastated. I can’t bear to see the painstaking work of more than a decade come unstuck over one instance of bad judgement. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to repent. I don’t even know how to make out with all of you…

Wait, don’t pounce on me; that’s my job. I know I mixed up the phrase there…Normally I’m better than this but today words are failing me.

Luckily, I’m told, Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka is also in a similar situation and has written a fab confessional. So I’m going to borrow liberally from his letter. I’m not separately marking out my debit transactions with Tarun but whenever you see elevated prose cover up lowly misdemeanour, you know it’s not mine.

As all of you are aware, Dhamaka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears, sweat and other semi-fluids.

I have been a conscientious editor and publisher. Through bad, and worse, times I have protected Dhamaka and its journalists from the inevitable demands of power and corporations.

I have always allowed every journalist’s sense of the right to flower and express itself. No one has ever been asked to do what they don’t believe in.

But perhaps I was a bit overzealous. On occasion I might have been guilty of discharging more than my duty required me to.

I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Dhamaka and from the Dhamaka office, for the next six months.

Some of you might say that I have been very considerate on myself with this light, self-indictment and you might be right. So, to increase the degree of difficulty of my penance, I undertake to move my office to the building elevator for these six months. Maybe at the end of it I will master the trick of keeping it in circuit long enough.

As I bid a temporary goodbye to all of you, let me assure you, I’ll make it up to you (that came out right!). Don’t let this one unfortunate incident bog you down. Always remember we have a lot to be proud of. We are the Dhamaka.

Brace yourselves for the tough times ahead. Lift yourselves up. And if you can’t do that on your own, help is in an elevator close to you.

With thanks to Tarun,

Venkat

***

Also read: Tarun J. Tejpal steps aside as editor of Tehelka

Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap

Tarun Tejpal steps aside as ‘Tehelka’ editor

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The following is the full text of the letter sent by Tarun J. Tejpal, founder-editor of Tehelka, to the managing editor of the magazine, Shoma Chaudhury, at 2.58 pm today.

The subject line is: Atonement.

My dear Shoma,

The last few days have been most testing, and I squarely take the blame for this.

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.

I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further. Tehelka has been born and built, day on day, with my blood, toil, tears and sweat, and that of many others, against near-insurmountable odds.

It has lived for and fought the big battles of our time, always on the side of the oppressed and the wronged, always on the side of equity and justice. Its voice has travelled the world and changed policy and perceptions. It has been a beacon for those who would do the right thing.

Through bad, and worse, times I have protected Tehelka and its journalists from the inevitable demands of power and corporations. I have always allowed every journalist’s sense of the right to flower and express itself. No one has ever been asked to do what they don’t believe in.

I have always held that Tehelka the institution, and its work, have always been infinitely more important than any of us individuals. It is tragic, therefore, that in a lapse of judgment I have hurt our own high principles.

Because it involves Tehelka, and a sterling shared legacy, I feel atonement cannot be just words. I must do the penance that lacerates me. I am therefore offering to recuse myself from the editorship of Tehelka, and from the Tehelka office, for the next six months.

You have always been stellar, Shoma, and even as I apologise to you and all my other colleagues, for this unfortunate incident, I leave Tehelka in your more than capable and safe hands.

In apology,
Tarun

***

The following is the full text of the email sent by Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury at 7.03 pm today, forwarding Tejpal’s letter to all staffers.

Dear All,

This may come as a rude surprise to many of you.

There is a letter from Tarun appended to this mail. There has been an untoward incident, and though he has extended an unconditional apology to the colleague involved, Tarun will be recusing himself as the editor of Tehelka for the next six months.

Tehelka is an institution he has built, and which many journalists both current and former, have contributed to in the most profound ways. Throughout our 13-year career, we have proudly articulated and tried to live by the highest standards.

We have also believed that when there is a mistake or lapse of any kind, one can only respond with right thought and action. In keeping with this stated principle, and the collective values we live by, Tarun will be stepping down for the period mentioned.

This is a hard time for all of us, and I hope all of you will stand by the institution.

Best,
Shoma

Photograph: courtest Outlook

Also read: Tarun Tejpal on the five facets of his life

How Congress regime stepped in to help Tehelka

A magazine, a scam, a owner & his Goan house

NYT, WSJ weigh on Tehelka‘s Goa controversy

Tehelka promoter says he didn’t turn off FW tap