Indian minister resigns over #MeToo allegations

Erika Holt
October 18, 2018

Reacting to Akbar's resignation, National Commission of Women (NCW) member Rekha Sharma told News18, "I welcome government's decision".

Akbar said he is stepping down as Minister of State for External Affairs and will challenge "false accusation" levelled against him in his personal capacity.

Nearly a fortnight after the allegations first emerged, minister of state for external affairs, MJ Akbar, has stepped down. "Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country", Akbar added in the statement.

"Now that M J Akbar, who has been accused by no less than 36 women of misconduct and harassment, has finally resigned, will PM Narendra Modi dare to speak up", Naik asked.

Meanwhile, Delhi's Patiala House Court on Tuesday, 16 October, listed the matter of the defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani for 18 October.

Akbar has denied all allegations levelled against him, and has sought legal recourse against one of his key accusers.

This came after 19 women journalists who have worked with The Asian Age came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani, who has accused the Union minister of sexual harassment.

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Tushita Patel, in a blog post, accused MJ Akbar of sexually harassing her, meeting her in a hotel room in his underwear and forcibly kissing her on two different occasions.

"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.

While Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association, said it is the determination and courage of 20 women journalists who came forward to expose Akbar that has "belatedly" forced him to resign, women's rights activist Ranajan Kumari said Akbar should be ashamed that he did not quit earlier and he is still fighting against the woman who came out. "Accusations without evidence have become a viral fever", he said after returning from a foreign trip on Sunday. According to him, the journalist had "willfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously" defamed him on "completely false, frivolous, unjustifiable and scandalous grounds".

"Ms Ramani is not alone in her fight".

Several other women journalists then came out alleging sexual harassment and assault at the hands of Akbar.

"You will agree that this is highly unethical and improper and will cast a cloud over any investigation into his alleged misdeeds, besides undermining the independence, justice and fair play that any citizen can expect from such proceedings", NWMI said in its letters to the President and the Prime Minister on Monday.

The #MeToo movement, which began in the United States more than a year ago in response to accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in the entertainment industry, gained traction in India last month after former actor Tanushree Dutta accused her co-star Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of a film in 2008.

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