MeToo movement: MJ Akbar denies harassment allegations against him, says will take legal action

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New Delhi | Updated: October 14, 2018 4:11:16 PM

Former Editor and Union Minister M J Akbar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by a number of women journalists, broke his silence on the matter on Sunday afternoon and called the allegations against him false and fabricated.

Union Minister MJ Akbar had returned to India from a foreign tour on Sunday morning. (Source: IE File)

Union Minister M J Akbar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by a number of women journalists, broke his silence on the matter on Sunday afternoon and called the allegations against him false and fabricated. In a detailed statement, Akbar said that these allegations were spiced up by innuendo and malice. “The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad,” he said.

Akbar added that the accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections and his lawyers will take the future course of legal action. “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,” he said.

“Why has this storm risen a few months before a 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.”

Akbar said lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. Defending himself, he said Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article but did not name him as 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 added.

Akbar questioned if he didn’t do anything then why a story was published. “There’s no story. But a sea of innuendo, speculation&abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened. Some are total,unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything,” he said.

Addressing the accusation made by Ghazala Wahab, Akbar said she claimed that she was molested in office, 21 years ago but he worked with her only in 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 said while adding that it is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space. “These allegations are false, motivated and baseless.”

Akbar had returned to India from a foreign tour on Sunday morning and said that he would issue a statement later.

He was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women as the MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of lives.

Even though the Bharatiya Janata Party had remained silent on the matter, party chief Amit Shah had said the action would be taken after verifying the facts.

On Thursday, Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani had said, “Anybody who is speaking out should in no way be shamed, victimised or mocked”.

A group of journalists held protests in Delhi on Saturday, demanding immediate action against those facing allegations of sexual misconduct including the removal of MJ Akbar.

“Sexual harassment at workplace is non-negotiable. We salute those women who have come out and shared their trauma. It is not easy to speak out and takes a lot of courage to speak up about such incidents,” senior journalist and IWPC president T K Rajalakshmi had said.

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