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

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.

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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