New Delhi, News24 Bureau, Oct 17: MJ Akbar resigns as Minister of State (External Affairs). Akbar, issues a statement saying, "Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down and face and challenge the false accusations levied against me in my personal capacity."
#MeToo campaign is a world-wide storm nowThe Indian version of #MeToo storm is getting a response from the foreign shores also. Victims from the foreign shores are speaking up.A US journalist accuses MJ Akbar of harassing her when she was just 18 years old. She was an intern at The Asian Age in 2007 at the time of the alleged incident.It started with Priya RamaniThe MeToo storm which was shaking and breaking Bollywood citadels reached and knocked the doors of media when senior scribe Priya Ramani opened the pandora's box.Priya Ramani had written an article on Akbar in Vogue India in October last year, without naming the minister.In her article titled 'To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world,' Ramani narrated her experience with the former journalist and now minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar in a hotel room in Mumbai, where he had called her for an interview."You’re an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer. You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay," it read.Union Minister MJ Akbar was put in the dock by a female journalist and then all hell broke loose
After this there was no stopping the MeToo tsunami. As many as nine female journalist shared their part of MeToo horror stories with the then veteran journalist and editor and now a senior BJP man MJ Akbar.At first there was a studied silence from the BJP and after much criticism, some ministers did start reacting to it. Though the comments were few and far between seeing the gravity of the issue.What was further shocking was when Akbar's boss Sushma Swaraj maintained a stoic silence.
BJP President Amit Shah responded after pressure grew upAnd now finally BJP president Amit Shah responded to the allegations of sexual assault against junior foreign minister MJ Akbar, saying that it remains to be seen if the allegations are true or false."We will have to verify whether these allegations are true or false. We have to check the veracity of the post and the person who posted it... (Is baare me zaroor sochenge) We will definitely look into the issue," Shah was quoted as saying by The Times of India.Delhi's Patiala House court has listed the matter of Union minister MJ Akbar to 18 October. He had filed a criminal defamation case in the court against journalist Priya Ramani yesterday."My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that. My wife Priya [Ramani] is amongst the 14 women journalists who have named union minister MJ Akbar for a range of inappropriate workplace behaviour," wrote her husband Samar Halarnkar, in his column.MJ Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint in a courtOn Monday Union Minister MJ Akbar filed a private criminal defamation complaint in a court in Delhi against journalist Priya Ramani, who has accused him of sexual misconduct around 20 years ago, alleging she "wilfully" and "maliciously" made imputations against him with the ulterior motive of maligning his reputation and political standing.The minister of state for external affairs filed the plea in the Patiala House district courts through law firm Karanjawala & Co and the 'vakalatnama' names 97 lawyers, who have been authorised by Akbar to represent him.Ramani said in a statement that she is ready to fight the defamation allegations. She alleged that "rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he (Akbar) seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment".Priya Ramani is the torch-bearer of the Indian episode of the #MeToo campaign. She spoke out against the minister of state and then all hell broke loose. Many skeletons started tumbling from cupboards and many dark secrets came to light, related to the film industry and in media as well as other fields. Within days a movement of sorts started with each day witnessing horrific tales of sexual harassment and exploitation.