Sunday, October 14, 2018

#MeToo Allegations: MJ Akbar ‘Resigns’

 #MeToo Allegations: MJ Akbar ‘Resigns’

New Delhi: Junior foreign minister MJ Akbar has resigned from the Union Cabinet on Sunday, 14th October 2018 following allegations of sexually harassing women during his days as a senior journalist.

According to News18 report, Akbar, who returned from an official trip to Nigeria, sent his resignation to Principal Secretary Nripendra Mishra and has sought time to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

According to government sources, Akbar’s position had become “untenable” after multiple women spoke out against him as part of the #MeToo movement, which has seen big names from the field of literature, entertainment, journalism and advertising being shamed for alleged sexual harassment. Sources added that other ministers had been complaining about being asked to comment on Akbar at every public event.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party has maintained a studied silence on the matter so far, party sources said the charges against him are serious. There is also a view within the party that there is no legal case against him, and allegations pertain to a time long before he became a minster. BJP chief Amit Shah is currently on a two-day tour of poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

Akbar was first called out by journalist Priya Ramani, who had last year written about his alleged inappropriate behaviour for a magazine without taking his name. She confirmed this week that the allegation was against Akbar.

‘I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator—maybe they’ll share’ Priya Ramani wrote.

Akbar, who has been the editor of prominent newspapers like The Telegraph, Asian Age and The Sunday Guardian, is a member of the Rajya Sabha from the BJP.

In her article, Ramani had said “Akbar is an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer.” “You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay,” her article said.

Detailing how he made her uncomfortable, she said he had called her for a job interview to a “plush south Mumbai hotel” when she was 23 and he was 43. Akbar did not meet Ramani in the hotel lobby and insisted that she meet him in his room. There, he offered her a drink. Although she refused, he drank vodka, sang old songs to her and asked her to sit close to him, she alleged. MJ Akbar has not yet responded. He is currently in Nigeria.

Soon after Ramani’s account, more women journalists came forward with their stories. A journalist named Shuma Raha said Akbar called her to his hotel room for an interview for Asian Age in Kolkata's Taj Bengal in 1995. She said that he didn't "do" anything, but “an interview sitting on a bed in a hotel room followed by an invitation to come over for a drink that evening was rattling and deeply uncomfortable". She said she declined the job offer.

I must clarify, however, that he didn't actually "do" anything. But the whole experience of an interview sitting on a bed in a hotel room followed by an invitation to come over for a drink that evening, was rattling and deeply uncomfortable, Shuma Raha wrote.

He was this brilliant,flamboyant #editor who dabbled in politics, who called me-my 1st job- to his hotel room to 'discuss work', after i put the edition to bed-read midnight, & made life at work hell when i refused.,cudnt speak up due to various compulsions, but yes #MeTooIndia, wrote Prerana Singh Bindra.

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