Smriti opens up on MeToo..It is for MJ Akbar to respond..Another Modi minister says Akbar should quit if guilty

New Delhi, Oct 11: Union minister Smriti Irani Thursday declined to comment on the allegations of sexual harassment against her ministerial colleague M J Akbar even as she said justice should be given to the "ladies who are speaking out".As the #MeToo campaign gathered momentum, some women journalists have come out and accused Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, of sexually harassing them during his stint as an editor in two newspapers."The gentleman concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue," Irani, the Union Textiles Minister, told reporters here while responding to questions over allegations against Akbar."I appreciate that the media is accosting his (former) female colleagues but I think it is for the gentleman concerned to issue a statement (and) not for me because I was personally not present there, Irani added.She urged people not to mock the women who are speaking out against the harassment meted out to them.I have said again and again on this particular issue, especially about women speaking out that anybody speaking out that in no way should be shamed, victimised or mocked. That is my only appeal to everybody who is witnessing this surge of outpouring of emotion, of anger on the internet and offline also, she said.She underlined that women dont go to work to be harassed but to work to live their dreams and earn a respectable living.So, I will say here today it must be very difficult for women to come out and talk about whatever happened in their professional lives. It is extremely an important part in time in our society where more and more women are getting the support, so they can speak out."I feel there are enough instruments in our judicial and police systems to deliver justice and I am hopeful that all these ladies who are speaking out get, due to due process, the justice that they deserve, Irani said.Akbar has not reacted to the allegations so far.Meanwhile, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale,said "I think we need to hear his statement too. He is out of India. There should be an investigation, if he is found to be guilty then he should resign."News24 Bureau/ PTI