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US-based journalist alleges she was raped by MJ Akbar

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MJ Akbar

New Delhi, Nov 2: After several women accused former Union Minister M.J. Akbar of sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo campaign, an allegation of rape has now surfaced with a US-based journalist narrating her ordeal of working under him when he was the editor of The Asian Age.

Pallavi Gogoi, Chief Business Editor at National Public Radio, in an article written under her byline for The Washington Post published on Friday (Thursday, India time), narrated her detailed account and described the incident of rape and various others incidents of sexual assault on her 23 years ago as “the most painful memories of my life”.

Akbar’s lawyer, Sandeep Kapur, told the Washington Post that his client “states these (incidents and allegation) are false and expressly denied.” When contacted by IANS, Kapur said the same thing adding that “any further course of action would be decided by the evening.”

After two incidents in Delhi and Bombay where Akbar had sexually molested and assaulted her, she said, one news story took her to a remote village a few hundred miles from Delhi.

“The assignment was to end in Jaipur. When I checked back, Akbar said I could come discuss the story in his hotel in Jaipur, far from Delhi.”

“In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame,” said Gogoi.

“I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?” she added.

She said after the Jaipur incident, “his grip over me got tighter”.

“I stopped fighting his advances because I felt so helpless. He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally,” she added.

After several women journalists charged Akbar with sexual harassment and assault in the past one month, he resigned as Minister of State for External Affairs on October 17. He has filed a defamation case against one of the first accusers.

In her 1,800 word article, Gogoi attacked the ruling BJP for letting Akbar continue as its member.

“He’s still today a member of the Indian Parliament and a member of the ruling party, which prides itself on advancing rights for young girls,” she wrote.

Gogoi added that he would burst into loud rages in the newsroom if he saw her talking to male colleagues of her age. “It was frightening.”

Later, when Gogoi was posted in London, she felt that the abuse would stop because she would be far away from Delhi office “except the truth was that he was sending me away so I could have no defenses and he could prey on me whenever he visited the city where I would be posted.”

She also alleged that Akbar was hit her when he saw her speaking to a male colleague in London office and “went on a rampage, throwing things from the desk at me — a pair of scissors, a paperweight, whatever he could get his hands on”, she said.

“I was in shreds — emotionally, physically, mentally…” she wrote

She said it was difficult to explain why she didn’t fight him back then.

“I cannot explain today how and why he had such power over me, why I succumbed. Was it because he was so much more powerful than I was?…”

She said over the years, she did not bring up Akbar in conversations as “I’ve always felt that Akbar is above the law and justice doesn’t apply to him. I felt he would never pay the price for what he had done to me.”

“But I am writing this because I know what it is like to be victimized by powerful men like Akbar. I am writing this to support the many women who have come out to tell their truth.”

IANS

India

Farmers Call Bharat Bandh On December 8

Thousands of farmers continue protests at the national capital’s border points on Friday amid heavy police deployment.

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Farmers on Protest

Hardening their position ahead of the fifth round of talks with the government, agitating farmers on Friday announced a ”Bharat Bandh” on December 8 and said they would occupy toll plazas on that day.

Addressing a press conference, farmer leader Gurnam Singh Chadoni said if the Centre does not accept their demands during Saturday’s talks, they will intensify their agitation against the new farm laws.

“In our meeting today, we have decided to give a ‘Bharat Bandh’ call on December 8 during which we will also occupy all toll plazas,” said Harvinder Singh Lakhwal, another farmer leader.

“We have planned to block all roads leading to Delhi in the coming days if new farm laws are not scrapped,” he also said.

Delhi’s border points remained choked as thousands of farmers from Haryana, Punjab, and other states held demonstrations for the ninth consecutive day, after talks with the government failed to yield any resolution on Thursday.

The farmer community has expressed apprehension that the new laws are “anti-farmer”, and would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

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Kangana Ranaut reacts to legal notices against her

She had retweeted the post with pictures of two elderly women, including Bilkis Bano, and wrote that the “same Dadi” who featured in Time Magazine was “available in 100 rupees”.

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Kangana Ranaut

Mumbai: Actress Kangana Ranaut on Friday reacted to legal notices piling up against her.

“Film mafia filed many cases on me, last night Javed Akhtar filed one more, Maharashtra government filing one case every hour now congress in Punjab is also joined the gang…. Lagta hai mujhe mahan banake he dum lenge (I think they will take a break only after making me great.) Thank you,” Kangana Ranaut tweeted from her verified account on Friday reacting to a news piece talking about the legal notice.

Earlier on Friday, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee sent a legal notice to Kangana, seeking an “unconditional apology” for her “derogatory” tweets against farmers and activists involved in the farmers protest against the Centre’s three Farm Laws, the committee’s president.

“We have sent a legal notice to Kangana Ranaut for her derogatory tweet calling the aged mother of a farmer as a woman available for Rs 100. Her tweets portray farmers protest as anti-national. We demand an unconditional apology from her for her insensitive remarks on farmers protest,” Manjinder Singh Sirsa, President of DSGMC tweeted.

The notice comes in the wake of a tweet from the actress alleging that the ‘Shaheen Bagh dadi’ also joined the farmers’ agitation over the new agri laws at various border points of the National Capital Region.

She had retweeted the post with pictures of two elderly women, including Bilkis Bano, and wrote that the “same Dadi” who featured in Time Magazine was “available in 100 rupees”.

On Thursday a petition had been filed in Bombay High Court against Kangana. The petitioner seeks the suspension of the verified Twitter account of the actress for allegedly spreading hatred and disharmony.

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India

Dalai Lama congratulates Maha teacher who won global prize

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Dalai Lama

Dharamsala, Dec 4 : Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Friday congratulated Ranjitsinh Disale, a primary school teacher in Maharashtra, on winning this year’s Global Teacher Prize, saying educating the young children, especially the poor, is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals.

“I would like to congratulate you,” His Holiness wrote, “on being named the world’s most exceptional teacher and to express my admiration for your generosity in sharing half the prize money with runners-up in the competition”.

“Educating young children, especially from poor and needy backgrounds is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals, and actively contributes to creating a better world.

“Your work to ensure that disadvantaged girls go to school, as well as your efforts to prepare study materials for them in their own language, the online science lessons you offer pupils in 83 countries and your project building connections between young people in conflict zones are all vivid examples of compassion in action.

“When you say, ‘Together we can make a difference — we can make this world a better place’, you are absolutely right. I am sure your exemplary service will encourage other brothers and sisters to follow in your footsteps.”

The spiritual leader ended his letter with an offering of prayers and good wishes.

The 31-year-old Ranjitsingh Disale declared that he will split half of the prize money of $1 million with his top 10 fellow finalists.

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