Sexual Assault in Indian Media: A Victim Speaks Out

IndiaFacts columnist, Dr. Shobha Srivastava in her analysis of the Tarun Tejpal sexual assault episode, mentioned similar cases of harassment of women in the Indian media. One of these was the tragic case of a media professional, Sayema Sahar whose painful ordeals at the hands of her seniors at the then Star News channel are documented at the following links:



Sayema Sahar continues to fight her battle to this day with no sign of justice at the horizon.

It appears that Dr. Shobha’s article has made an impact because Ms. Sayema Sahar has herself written an email to IndiaFacts narrating her tale (and has also left a comment on our site). In her email, she has also named names of some of the media people who have now spoken out and/or criticizing Tarun Tejpal’s brazen behaviour.

The following is the complete text of her email sent to IndiaFacts. It has been edited only for language and formatting. Where the text is in Hindi, a faithful gist has been translated into English.

IndiaFacts would like to record its gratitude to Dr. Shobha for the impactful piece and to Mr. Bhavesh and Mr. Anurag who gave us the English translation.

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Look who is talking……

Mr. Anjum of News 24 writes on the Tarun Tejpal harassment story:

खुद ही मुजरिम और खुद ही मुंसिफ कैसे हो सकते हैं बॉस …..
बड़े गौर से सुन रहा था ये जमाना तुम्ही फंस गए दास्तां कहते- कहते!
मैने पहले भी कई बार लिखा है …फिर कह रहा हूं कि अगर मीडिया में भी नारायण साईं और आसाराम हैं तो उनका असली चेहरा भी सामने आना चाहिए ….हम दूसरों को आईना दिखाते हैं …दूसरों को नसीहत देते हैं …..संतों और शैतानों से लेकर नेताओं और अभिनेताओं के चरित्र पर चिंतन करते हैं तो फिर अपने भीतर भी झांकना चाहिए … लड़कियों को भी हिम्मत करके आगे आना चाहिए …अगर सुप्रीम कोर्ट के जज के आचरण के खिलाफ एक इंटर्न सामने नहीं आई होती तो पता नहीं चलता कि जज भी ऐसा कर सकते हैं …मीडिया में बहुत दुर्योधन होंगे …  (How can boss be guilty/accused and judge at the same time? Everyone was engrossed listening to you and you yourself narrated the incident that put you in trouble. I’ve said earlier also and i’m repeating again that if people like ashrams and Narayan Sais are there in media, then they should be exposed too… we show mirror to others, we give advise to saints, devils, actors, politicians.. we discuss their characters and their behaviors, we judge them then we should look within ourselves also. Women too should show courage and come forward…if the intern who worked under a Supreme Court judge would not have come out, we could never have known that even judges too can commit such heinous acts…likewise there must be lot of ‘Duryodhans’ in the media too.)

Bravo Mr. Anjum! It’s easier said than done! I must say your memory is very short lived, let me remind you of 27th June 2013, Media Khabar had organized a Media Conclave in the memory of S. P. Singh, where practically all the stalwarts of Electronic Media barring the editor in Chief of ABP News were present. I too had an opportunity to be a part of this conclave, where I asked Ajeet Anjum and Mr. Naqvi , and Mr. Rahul Dev that why did they choose to keep quiet when I was being victimized at India’s No.1 news channel ABP News formerly known as Star News.

And Mr. Anjum had the audacity to say “ there is no answer.” The rest of them present there chose to keep quiet.

But Mr. Naqvi has decided to break his silence now, better late than never. This is what he has to say on Mr. Tejpal’s Story:

Qamar Waheed Naqvi 6 hours ago via Mobile: तरुण तेजपाल पर लगे यौन शोषण के आरोपों पर क़ानूनी प्रक्रिया को दरकिनार कैसे किया जा सकता है? क़ानूनी प्रक्रिया से मामले का निपटारा हो, यही सही रास्ता है  (How can anyone dismiss sexual harassment/exploitation charges against Tarun Tejpal under the law?  Such things should be dealt under the law, Law should be allowed to take its course, that is the only right way.)

And then, anchor and Foreign Affairs Editor at CNN-IBN, Suhasini Haider writes: “Tehelka case is eg of how not to deal w/ sexual assault. Hope those in charge will give the young girl the courage to file a police complaint.

Anyone who advises a sexual assault victim not to file a police case is guilty. It is our silence that enables and emboldens the offenders the most. Why did you choose to keep quiet when I needed you most Ms Haider?

No media house, no National Commission of Women, no Minority Commission has the moral right or has a face to comment on Mr. Tarun Tejpal’s harassment story because they chose to keep quiet when I, Sayema Sahar, a suspended employee of Star News aka ABP News went from pillar to post to all these media houses and commissions, pleading them to come with me in my fight for justice but they turned a deaf ear to my woeful tale of harassment.

Vulnerable, hapless, helpless and traumatized, I went to the HR, I went to the Editor in Chief of Star News/ABP News, pleading to give me a patient hearing only to be further harassed by the system.

When I was denied any help of any sort within the organisation I went to the NCW. Least did I know at that time that it is a compromised commission which has no tooth of its own. I was made to believe that my integrity and my modesty were in safe hands but I was mistaken. The NCW chose to go my employers’ way.

My fight with THIS BIG MEDIA HOUSE is still on, with no help from anywhere. It’s just my belief in the age old adage that “truth always triumphs” that keeps me going.

Witnesses were created, documentary evidences were deleted, and the men who harassed me were promoted at Star News/ABP News.

I know not of the unfortunate girl in Mr. Tejpal’s case but I would certainly want to give her a word of caution to not go to these toothless bodies: it would only add to her agony.
I started my fight for justice when my baby was 6 months old. She is four and a half today and my fight still continues….

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