Union minister MJ Akbar on Sunday said he will take legal actions against accusations made against him of sexual assault after a number of women journalists accused the former editor of sexual misconduct. Releasing a detailed statement, Akbar said the allegations of misconduct made against him are “false and fabricated”.
“Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action,” Akbar said after returning from Nigeria.
The Minister of State for External Affairs returned to the country on Sunday morning amid calls for his resignation over the allegations. He, however, refused to speak on his resignation demands.
Multiple women in the last few days have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist as the #MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of life.
“Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action," Akbar said in the statement.
Union minister also questioned why has this (#MeToo) storm risen a few months before the general election.
“Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill,” he asked.
Stating on the allegation made by journalist Priya Ramani, Akbar said the article she had written a year ago was “incorrect”.
“Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not however name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a Tweet: ‘Never named him because he didn't 'do' anything’,” he said.
On another journalist Anju Bharti, Akbar said she “went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim”.
“Another accusation was made repeatedly by Ghazala Wahab, in an effort to damage my reputation. She claimed that she had been molested in office, 21 years ago. This is 16 years before I entered public life, and when I was in media. The only office where I worked with Ghazala Wahab was that of The Asian Age. A part of the editorial team then worked out of a small hall. At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. Others had tables and chairs two feet away.”
Akbar also asked why Ramani and Wahab kept working with him even after the alleged incidents. “… Clearly establishes they had no apprehension and discomfort. Reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent as Ms Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything,” he said.