Friday, 23 August, 2019

MJ Akbar: India minister quits after #MeToo allegations

Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation MJ Akbar: India minister quits after #MeToo allegations
Patty Aguilar | 18 October, 2018, 01:11

Many women in India see this as the first significant victory of the MeToo movement ever since it picked up pace after Tanushree Dutta levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar on the sets of Horn "OK" Pleassss.

"Since I have chose to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations against me", he said in a statement.

He then filed a criminal defamation suit against Priya Ramani.

Nearly a fortnight after the allegations first emerged, minister of state for external affairs, MJ Akbar, has stepped down.

The following day, dozens of members of the Congress Party's youth wing clashed with police outside Akbar's New Delhi home, demanding his resignation.

The development comes after another woman journalist accused him of sexual harassment and 17 women journalists who have worked with "The Asian Age" newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani.

Reacting to Akbar's resignation, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said,"Opposition was asking him to resign on moral grounds".

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Invoking multiple cases to highlight BJP's alleged double standards in sexual harassment cases, she said, "People of India are actually feeling let down by the inactions, muteness and indecisions on this issue, be it action against BJP MLA Senger in Unnao (UP), be it the Kathua rape case or be it the bone-chilling exploitation of girls/women in Muzaffarpur (Bihar)".

Akbar is the most high profile person to quit in recent weeks amid a snowballing #MeToo social media campaign that has seen allegations of sexual harassment against men in workplaces, primarily in the media and entertainment industries. "I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence", she had said.

Nath's lawyer Ashok Sarogi has said the allegations against his client were false. As part of the #MeToo movement, she went on to tweet that the journalist she was referring to was Akbar and that he had made her uncomfortable after calling her for an interview in a hotel room.

Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi said she saluted the women who stood against Akbar bravely in spite of the "brazen" stance taken by the government. On October 8, she reposted the article naming Akbar.

The letter could result in criminal charges against Ramani and become the first major hurdle for India's #MeToo movement which has taken off this month.

"The only office where I worked with her was that of The Asian Age".

"What Mr Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused huge pain and indeed harm to many, many women over the years", the 20 journalists willing to testify in court said in a statement.

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