Even as the demand seeking MoS External Affairs MJ Akbar to step down is growing stronger by the day, a 16th woman, a journalist, has come forward and accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment. Journalist Tushita Patel, while narrating her ordeal in an article, has revealed how MJ Akbar forcibly kissed her on multiple occasions. Patel alleged that MJ Akbar harassed her at his hotel and their office wherein he was his boss, leaving her defeated, humiliated and blinded by hurt.
In an article on Scroll, penned by her, Tushita Patel alleged that in the year 1992, MJ Akbar “incessantly” called her asking her to come to his hotel room. When she finally reached there, Tushita Patel recalled that Akbar opened the door dressed allegedly in his underwear. Cut to 1993, Patel narrated another incidents, when MJ Akbar called her to his cabin and forcibly kiss her.
In the article, Patel also backed the allegations made by journalist Ghazala Wahab against MJ Akbar, wherein she said that he molested her in his cabin. Notably, the MoS had rubbished Wahab’s claims, saying “At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. It is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space.”
Now, Tushita Patel has hit back at MJ Akbar over his statement, asking his to ‘stop lying about your plywood and glass cabin… there are other victims who you almost broke and destroyed with your lust and power trip.’
Earlier in the day, Network of Women in Media, India filed a petition to President Ram Nath Kovind as well as writing to PM Narendra Modi seeking the resignation of MJ Akbar as well as an investigation on the allegations against him.
On Monday, 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.
Journalist Priya Ramani responded to the defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against her saying, “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.”
As many as 16 women have named MJ Akbar so far in the ongoing #MeToo campaign 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.