Former Editor & Minister MJ Akbar Rejects All Sexual Harassment Allegations, To Take Legal Action

| October 14 , 2018 , 16:17 IST

Former Editor and currently the Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar broke his silence on Sunday on the multiple accusations against him of sexual harassment which began flowing in since October 8, when journalist Priya Ramani alleged that he was the harasser she referred to in a year-old article.

Returning from an official tour abroad, M J Akbar issued a detailed statement, condemning the allegations and stating that he would take legal action against accusations made against him of sexual assault.

"The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad," Akbar said.

"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," he said.

"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," said M J Akbar.

"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," he emphasised.

"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." said Akbar.

"If I didn't do anything, where & what is the story? There's no story. But a sea of innuendo, speculation & abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened.  Some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn’t do anything," he said.

"Shutapa Paul states, “The man never laid a hand on me.”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," Akbar said.

"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," he said.

"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," M J Akbar said.

"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," he reiterated.

"Pertinent to remember Ms Ramani & Ms Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; clearly establishes 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," said M J Akbar.

A former Congress MP who later joined the BJP, M J Akbar is founder of the national first weekly political news magazine, Sunday as well as 2 daily newspapers The Telegraph and The Asian Age. Since the allegations against him came out, the Opposition has demanded his resignation.