After being accused by as many as 16 women of sexual harassment, former Minister of State for External Affairs (MoS MEA) MJ Akbar faces fresh new allegations against him, with the chief business editor for NPR Pallavi Gogoi accusing him of rape.
In the recent most revelation, which comes on the back of the #MeToo campaign, Pallavi spoke about her horror to the Washington Post, wherein she has revealed that the former journalist had sexually harassed her twice, before going on to finally rape here.
The alleged incidents had taken place when Pallavi joined Asian Age, where the editor was MJ Akbar. She has revealed that after becoming the editor of op-ed page, she was once called by Akbar into his office, wherein he allegedly launched himself upon her.
"It must have been late spring or summer of 1994, and I had gone into his office — his door was often closed. I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed," she spoke about the first incident.
It was then followed by a similar incident a few months later, where Akbar not only tried to kiss Pallavi, but had also allegedly left behind scratches on her face when she tried to resist and leave.
"The second incident was a few months later, when I was summoned to Bombay to help launch a magazine. He called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel, again to see the layouts. When he again came close to me to kiss me, I fought him and pushed him away. He scratched my face as I ran away, tears streaming down. That evening, I explained the scratches to a friend by telling her I had slipped and fallen at the hotel," she alleged.
After the two incidents, Pallavi has stated that she tried to avoid Akbar by coming early to office and leaving for reporting earlier than usual. But an official work trip to Jaipur meant she came in direct contact with Akbar in a hotel room, wherein he allegedly pounced himself upon her and raped her.
"In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room? What was worse was that after that first time, his grip over me got tighter. I stopped fighting his advances because I felt so helpless. He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally. He would burst into loud rages in the newsroom if he saw me talking to male colleagues my own age. It was frightening," Pallavi mentioned while recalling the incident.
A couple of weeks ago, Akbar resigned from his post of MoS MEA, though he denied all the allegations that were leveled against him. Terming the accusations by all the 16 women as false and fabricated, he decided to take legal action against Priya Ramani, the first woman who had come out and spoken against him, and took her to court after filing a defamation case.