Hours after Minister of State for External Affairs and former journalist MJ Akbar sued journalist Priya Ramani for hurling misconduct charge at him, Ramani has responded to his defamation suit. Responding to MJ Akbar’s statement on the allegations and the defamation case, Ramani said, “By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Mr Akbar has made his stand clear; rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment.”
In a Twitter post, the scribe said that she is “deeply disappointed that a union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy”.
Priya Ramani also said that she is ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against her as “truth and the absolute truth is my only defence”.
While slamming those casting aspersions and questioning the intent and motives of the women speaking out against the alleged sexual predators, Ramani said:
“At this moment, it is disingenuous to ask why they have spoken now, as we are well aware of the stigma and shame that sexual crimes inflict upon victims. Rather than cast aspersions on the intent and motives of these women, we must reflect on how to improve the workplace for future generations of men and women.”
Priya Ramani also slammed the MoS’s statement on allegations of misconduct, wherein he dismissed the charges as “false, motivated and baseless.”
“I wish to register my strong protest against Mr Akbar’s most recent statement, which pays no heed to the trauma and fear of survivors or the courage required to speak truth to power,” said Ramani.
Earlier in the day, MoS External Affairs filed a complaint for defamation under sections 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 against journalist Priya Ramani. Furthermore, Akbar and his lawyers have mentioned that the posts of Ramani were ‘written with a sole ulterior motive of maligning the reputation and political standing’ of the MoS.
On Sunday, MJ Akbar while reacting to specific claims made by Ramani against him, said, “Ms 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.” If I didn’t do anything, where and what is the story? There is no story. This was admitted at the very inception.”
As many as 14 women have named MJ Akbar so far. It began with a post by journalist Priya Ramani, who called out MJ Akbar and accused him of inappropriate behaviour. After her post, several other women spoke out and accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment.
With her tweet, Ramani had shared a link to her 2017 article, wherein she accused him of behaving inappropriately. Though, back then Ramani didn’t name him. However, in her tweet, she outed Akbar and also spilled the beans on why she didn’t reveal his name when she wrote the article.
“I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator—maybe they’ll share,” she wrote on Twitter.