Indian Minister MJ Akbar denies sexual misconduct allegations


Minister M.J. Akbar filed a case against journalist Priya Ramani, the first of more than a dozen women to allege harassment in recent weeks from his days as a newspaper editor, Akbar's lawyer Sandeep Kapur told The Associated Press.

More than 200 protesters of the youth wing of the opposition Congress party waved placards and chanted slogans near Akbar's Delhi house on Monday.

Akbar accused Ghazala Wahab of trying to damage his reputation.

The complaint listed instances of the alleged defamatory statements made by Ramani being circulated through print and electronic media, as well as Twitter.

The lawsuit has named Ramani as the sole accused and says that she "intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious", allegations to harm his reputation, according to Reuters news agency.

"It is pertinent to mention that the conduct of the accused person (Ramani), of not taking any action before any authority, qua the alleged incident against the complainant (Akbar) also clearly belies the sanctity of the article and allegations made by the accused person, which evidently goes on to prove that the said defamatory articles are only a figment of her imagination and are only meant to malign the reputation of the complainant", read the complaint. "I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour overseas", he said.

Claims against Akbar have mounted since a tweet on October 8 from journalist Priya Ramani, who said Akbar was the man she mentioned in a Vogue India article a year ago.

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Talking to the HuffPost India, the survivor, Majlie de Puy Kamp, claimed that she was 18 whereas Akbar was 55-year old at the time of incident. "I am, however, very comfortable with my story". Never named him because he didn't "do" anything. "The sheer numbers of women and girls reporting sometimes against a single individual reveals the extent of the problem, including the fact that they continue to prey on women and get away with it while rising in their careers", said Swati Maliwal.

Calling the accusations without evidence "viral fever" among some sections, Akbar said he will initiate legal action against those who have levelled allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against him.

The issue is likely to create political ripples.

Yesterday he returned to Delhi from a trip to Africa and was expected to resign.

"Mr Akbar's conspiracy theory that the #MeToo charges have settled upon him because elections are now looming is weak and totally unconvincing. I do not know how to swim".

"Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election?" he asked. Is there an agenda? "You be the judge", he wrote. India is also to go to national polls in 2019.

Mayawati said the Akbar episode has exposed the insensitivity of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership as well as the central government towards the dignity of women.