Far from confirming reports that he had tendered his resignation over the sexual harassment allegations that have been levelled against him by at least 13 women, MoS MEA MJ Akbar has issued a stunning statement denying the charges and alleging a political vendetta and 2019 election-angle to what he has claimed are 'false and fabricated' allegations, 'spiced up by innuendo and malice'. Furthermore, Akbar who returned to the country earlier on Sunday has stated the intention to take a legal action against his accusers.
Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action. Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill. Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action.
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. But a sea of innuendo, speculation & abusive diatribe has been built around something that has never happened. While some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay, there are others that confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything.
In one statement, Shutapa Paul states, “The man never laid a hand on me. Also, Shuma Raha says, “I must clarify, however, that he didn’t actually ‘do’ anything”. One woman, Anju Bharti, went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim.
Another accusation was made repeatedly by Ms Ghazala Wahab, in an effort to damage my reputation. She claimed that she had been molested in office, 21 years ago. This is 16 years before I entered public life, and when I was in media
The only office where I worked with Ghazala Wahab was that of The Asian Age. A part of the editorial team then worked out of a small hall. At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. Others had tables and chairs two feet away
It is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day. These allegations are false, motivated and baseless
Pertinent to remember, Ms Ramani & Ms Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents. Clearly, this establishes that they had no apprehension & discomfort. Reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent, as Ms Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything.
"I will only say this that the gentleman concerned would be better positioned to speak on this issue. I appreciate the media is accosting his female colleague but I think it is for him to issue a statement, not for me, because I was personally not present there. But I have said again and again that anyone speaking out, in no way should be shamed."