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Me Too campaign: Union Minister MJ Akbar accused of sexual harassment

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MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Oct 9: As the Me Too campaign gathers momentum,  Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar has landed into a controversy after some of the journalists accused him of sexual harassment.

A day after journalist Priya Ramani levelled allegations against Akbar, another of his former colleagues Prerna Singh Bindra came up with the similar charges.

The Telegraph, of which Akbar was the founding editor, had carried a story on the basis of tweets by Ramani and another account by an unnamed writer in Firstpost.

However, theMEA is yet to comment on the matter.

Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj today dodged questions on sexual harassment allegations against Akbar.

Ramani took social media to speak about the misconduct she witnessed on Monday.

An article by an unnamed woman journalist did not name Akbar but dubbed to him as a boss of a new newspaper published simultaneously from Bombay, Delhi and London (The Asian Age).

The journalist said she was made to wait in a hotel lobby for hours and when he came from his meetings at 9.30 pm, she was asked if she wanted to stay over. It also says that when she refused, he “graciously told me to take the office car and get dropped off home in distant suburbs.”

“But yes, I was definitely never a favourite post that incident,” it added.

“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”, Ramani Tweeted.

https://twitter.com/priyaramani/status/1049279608263245824

In her article titled she narrated her ordeal “To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world” published in October 2017, journalist Priya Ramani has alleged that “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,” the article reads.

Bindra had on Sunday made allegations against the minister but did not name him. “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, and made life at work hell when I refused, couldn’t speak up due to various compulsions, but yes #MeTooIndia,” she had stated.

However, on Tuesday she named him and made a series of tweets.

“It was MJ Akbar I do not say this lightly.. I know the consequences of false accusations and it has been now 17 yrs and I have no concrete proof. But I was young, just made features editor, super impressed with our brilliant editor, sensitive writer (read Riot after Riot),

“But the great have feet of clay. I have narrated the story in my earlier tweets. I enjoyed our conversations-he was witty, intelligent, but this did not mean i was available. After I refused to go to the hotel at night- post putting paper to bed- things got nasty.

“He made lewd comments, once when we had a meeting with the entire features team. One of the girls told me later he had asked them to meet him in the hotel too. I was alone in the city, vulnerable, fighting battles on personal fronts. I kept quiet,” she said.

“Once, I recall going for a story-in Mumbai Mantralaya, and the officer tried to grab me: And I thought whom do I complain to: my editor is made of same stuff. And I walked away from AA. dug up dirt-on corruption-on the officer, but the next newspaper refused to publish it,” she added.

In India, Me Too moment started with Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta accusing veteran actor Nana Patekar of sexual misconduct on the sets of a 2008 film.

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Why shall CBI’s appeal in 2G case be given priority over pending matters: Advocate to HC

He further argued that allowing the application for early hearing shall be against the interest of justice, as the respondents shall not get adequate opportunity as the records run into lakhs of pages.

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CBI Headquarters

New Delhi, Sep 21 : While the Delhi High Court on Monday was hearing an application seeking early hearing in the 2G spectrum case, the accused persons, including former Telecom Minister A. Raja, businessman Shahid Balwa and others, opposed the said application filed by the CBI and the ED.

When the matter was being heard by Justice Brijesh Sethi, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain informed the court that the matter is of public interest and since Justice Sethi is due to demit his office on November 30, the court may hear the matter expeditiously.

Responding to the arguments, the counsels appearing for the various accused persons opposed the plea moved by the agencies. Advocate Manu Sharma, appearing for A. Raja, argued that there was no reason to grant an out-of-turn, urgent hearing to the appeals moved by the CBI and the ED amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Advocates Vijay Aggarwal, Mudit Jain and Ashul Agarwal, representing Shahid Balwa and several others, too opposed the said petition and stated that the CBI has not explained as to why the appeal filed by them should be given precedence/preference over other appeals.

“Why is the appeal so important and be given this much priority when there are several pending matters wherein the accused persons are languishing in jail,” Aggarwal argued.

He further argued that allowing the application for early hearing shall be against the interest of justice, as the respondents shall not get adequate opportunity as the records run into lakhs of pages.

“However, to address the arguments, each person will not even get 0.89 day to argue his or her case as the concerned judge is scheduled to demit his office. Justice hurried is justice burried,” Aggarwal said.

The court will now hear the matter on Tuesday.

The probe agencies, both CBI and ED, had moved the court in March 2018 challenging the trial court’s order which had acquitted all the accused persons in the 2G spectrum case. In 2017, a special CBI court acquitted all the 18 accused, including A. Raja and K. Kanimozhi.

The scam came to light almost seven years ago when the Comptroller and Auditor General in a report held then Telecom Minister A. Raja responsible for causing the state exchequer a loss of Rs 1,76,379 crore by allocating 2G spectrum licences at throwaway prices.

However, the trial court found that the prosecution failed to prove the charges. This verdict, however, didn’t override the Supreme Court judgement or take away from the fact that the licences issued during 2G spectrum allocation were illegal.

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Encounter on between terrorists, security forces in Kashmir’s Budgam

“Encounter has started at Charar-i-Sharief area of Budgam. Police and security forces are on the job,” police said.

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Jammu and Kashmir Shopian Indian Army

Srinagar, Sep 21 : An encounter is underway between terrorists and security forces at Charar-i-Sharief in central Kashmir’s Budgam district on Monday, officials said.

The firefight took place after security forces cordoned off the area and launced a search operation on the basis of specific information about presence of terrorists. As the security forces zeroed in on the spot where terrorists were hiding they came under a heavy volume of fire that triggered the encounter.

“Encounter has started at Charar-i-Sharief area of Budgam. Police and security forces are on the job,” police said.

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PM Modi to address IIT Guwahati’s convocation on Tuesday

As many as 1,803 students including 687 B.Tech and 637 M. Tech students will be obtaining degrees.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Sep 21 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the convocation of IIT, Guwahati on Tuesday through video-conferencing.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, his deputy Sanjay Dhotre among others will also join in.

As many as 1,803 students including 687 B.Tech and 637 M. Tech students will be obtaining degrees.

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