MJ Akbar: India minister quits after #MeToo allegations

MJ Akbar: India minister quits after #MeToo allegations

MJ Akbar: India minister quits after #MeToo allegations

Senior Editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar has reportedly tendered his resignation as the Minister of State for External Affairs amid sexual harassment allegations by several women journalists under #MeToo campaign.

Meanwhile, the additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal will hear the criminal defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani tomorrow. On October 8, she reposted the article naming Akbar.

The controversy was also becoming a ripe target for Modi's critics.

In a Vogue India article published a year ago, journalist Priya Ramani described how an acclaimed newspaper editor called her for a job interview to his "plush south Mumbai hotel" when she was 23 and he was 43.

Gandhi, in many of his recent speeches at election rallies, has come out strongly against the Modi government for not speaking up on the charges against one of its ministers. Since September, Indian actresses and writers have flooded social media with allegations of sexual harassment and assault by their superiors and colleagues.

Akbar, a member of Modi's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was previously a member of the Congress Party. He did not respond to a request to comment on the defamation suit on Tuesday.

Akbar's boss, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi both were opposed to him continuing in office while he fought a legal battle against his accusers, the sources, who can not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said.

In addition to Ramani, several journalists, including Shuma Raha, Ghazala Wahab and Shutapa Paul, have accused Akbar of calling women to his hotel rooms for interviews, or making women feel uncomfortable by seeking to be alone with them.

Menon, one of the journalists at the forefront of the movement, said that after the initial shock of Akbar's defamation complaint had passed, women activists and their supporters have gained new momentum - and new impetus to organise themselves. She described Akbar's alleged advances in a first-person account for the news website, the Wire. Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997), Malavika Banerjee (1995-1998), A T Jayanthi (1995-1996), Hamida Parkar (1996-1999), Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar (1996-2000), Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (1999-2000) and Sanjari Chatterjee are the other journalists to sign the statement.

"In attempting to refute my story of molestation and harassment, Akbar has tried to hide inside his supposedly "very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass".

"It is utterly freaky to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill".

Other women spoke out, too.

Other prominent men in India have also faced repercussions from India's #MeToo movement.

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