MJ Akbar resigned from his post as MoS, MEA on Wednesday over allegations of sexual harassment against him. As per initial information, MJ Akbar was asked to quit by the Government amid massive pressure by women journalists for his ouster.
"Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity. I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs,"wrote MJ Akbar in his resignation letter.
This came after 20 women journalists came forward in support of journalist Priya Ramani, who has been sued by MoS External Affairs MJ Akbar. Issuing a statement, the journalists said that Ramani is not alone in her fight and that they are ready to testify against MJ Akbar.
“Ms. Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment,” said the journalists.
Minister and former journalist MJ Akbar filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani on October 15. Reacting to the defamation case, the journalists said, “What Mr. Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many many women over the years. He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament.”
Supporting the allegations made by Priya Ramani against MJ Akbar, the journalists said, “When Ms. Ramani spoke out against him in public, she spoke not only about her personal experience but also lifted the lid on the culture of casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation that Mr. Akbar engendered and presided over at The Asian Age.”
1) Meenal Baghel (Asian Age 1993-1996)
2) Manisha Pande (Asian Age 1993-1998)
3) Tushita Patel (Asian Age 1993-2000)
4) Kanika Gahlaut (Asian Age 1995-1998)
5) Suparna Sharma (Asian Age 1993-1996)
6) Ramola Talwar Badam (Asian Age 1994-1995)
7) Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997)
8) Malavika Banerjee (Asian Age 1995-1998)
9) A.T. Jayanthi (Asian Age 1995-1996)
10) Hamida Parkar (Asian Age 1996-1999)
11) Jonali Buragohain (Asian Age)
12) Sanjari Chatterjee (Asian Age)
13) Meenakshi Kumar (Asian Age 1996-2000)
14) Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (Asian Age 1999-2000)
15) Hoihnu Hauzel (Asian Age 1999-2000)
16) Reshmi Chakraborty (Asian Age Mumbai staff 1996-1998)
17) Kushalrani Gulab (Asian age 1993-1997)
18) Aisha khan (Asian Age 1995-1998)
19) Kiran Manral (Asian Age 1993-1995)
20) Christina Francis (Deccan Chronicle 2004-2011)
After MJ Akbar sued Ramani, she responded to the defamation case and 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.”
Several journalists have accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct. It began with a post by journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first one to call out MJ Akbar and accuse 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.