US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi refuted former Union Minister MJ Akbar’s claim of having a “consensual relationship” with him and wrote on Twitter, “A relationship that is based on coercion, and abuse of power, is not consensual. I stand by every word in my published account.”
Akbar, who had to recently resign from the post of Minister of State for External Affairs after multiple sexual harassment allegations, denied the rape allegations levelled against him by the journalist and had claimed that he had a “consensual relationship” spanning several months with her but it ended “perhaps not on the best note”.
Akbar’s wife Mallika Akbar also broke her silence for the first time since accusations were levelled against her husband, saying that while she doesn’t know Pallavi’s reasons for telling this lie, it is a lie nevertheless.
US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi, in a piece written for The Washington Post, accused MJ Akbar of raping her and threatening her with consequences if she refused the advances made at her, when she worked with him at The Asian Age.
Tracking Fresh & Serious Allegations Against Akbar: Editors Guild
In a fresh statement issued by the Editors Guild of India on Friday, 2 November, the body, of which Akbar is a former President, said that it was “tracking with great concern fresh, and serious allegations of sexual misconduct against former editor MJ Akbar”.
Keeping in tune with its last statement against Akbar, it said that since Akbar was no longer a journalist, his membership with the Guild had become “dormant”.
Not a Consensual Relationship: Gogoi Refutes Akbar’s Claim
In a statement released on Twitter, Gogoi refuted Akbar’s claim of sharing a “consensual relationship” and wrote, “Rather than taking responsibility for his abuse of me & his serial predation of other young man who have courageously came forward. MJ Akbar has insisted-just like other infamous serial sexual abuser of women-that the relationship was consensual. It was not. A relationship that is based on coercion, and abuse of power, is not consensual. I stand by every word in my published account.”
Bar Council Warns of Action Against Legal Firm Representing Akbar
The Bar Council of Delhi, in a letter written to Raian Karanjawala, pointed out that the Vakalatnama filed by M/S Karanjawala and Co, the legal firm representing Akbar, is not in accordance with Rule 105A of the Bar Council of Delhi Rules.
The Council secretary asked the firm to submit its explanation regarding the same within two weeks, and warned of action if it doesn’t do so.
‘Don’t Know Pallavi’s Reasons for Telling This Lie But a Lie It Is’: MJ Akbar’s Wife
Breaking her silence for the first time since accusations of misconduct and sexual harassment were levelled against MJ Akbar, his wife Mallika Akbar has refuted the rape allegations levelled by journalist Pallavi Gogoi against her husband, saying that while she doesn’t know Pallavi’s reasons for telling this lie, it is a lie nevertheless.
In a statement, Mallika Akbar said:
“More than twenty years ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in our home. I learned of her and my husband’s involvement through her late night phone calls and her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish and hurt to my entire family. At an Asian Age party at our home, crowded with young journalists, I have watched with mortification and pain as they danced close. I had confronted my husband at the time and he decided to prioritize his family. Tushita Patel and Pallavi Gogoi were often at our home, happily drinking and dining with us. Neither carried the haunted look of victims of sexual assault. I don’t know Pallavi’s reasons for telling this lie but a lie it is.”
‘Pallavi Gogoi and I Entered Into a Consensual Relationship’: MJ Akbar
Former Union Minister MJ Akbar has called the allegations of rape and violence against him, detailed in a Washington Post piece by journalist Pallavi Gogoi, as false.
In his statement, Akbar said:
He went on to say that several people have come forward to indicate that they would be happy to bear testimony to his version of events.
MJ Akbar Denies Allegations
Responding to The Washington Post, MJ Akbar’s lawyer has said, “My client states that these [incidents and allegations] are false and expressly denied.”
I Was Raped by MJ Akbar: Pallavi Gogoi
In a piece written for The Washington Post, journalist Pallavi Gogoi has narrated her ordeal and has written about how she was allegedly raped by MJ Akbar back in the 1990s.
Gogoi goes on to write about the spring or summer of 1994 when she was working as the op-ed editor for the Asian Age and was first assaulted by Akbar. She describes it as an embarrassment for herself that left her scarred.
Narrating the incident, Gogoi writes, “I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed.”
In her piece, Gogoi has narrated other incidents where Akbar made advances and threatened her if she refused.
Narrating another such incident Gogoi recalls the time when she was summoned to Bombay to help Akbar launch a magazine. She was called to Akbar’s hotel room to show him the layouts, Akbar tried to kiss her and when she resisted, he scratched her face.
As Gogoi pens down, she started looking for more reporting opportunities to “escape” office and as one story took her to a remote village a few miles away from Delhi, she was called to meet Akbar in a hotel in Jaipur, where her assignment was to end.
Gogoi then recalls what happened with her in that hotel room.
Visuals of MJ Akbar on Wednesday, 31 October
MJ Akbar Concludes Statement, Next Date of Hearing on 12 November
MJ Akbar concluded his statement in front of the magistrate. The statements of the witnesses will be recorded on the next date of hearing, which is 12 November.
Notably, Priya Ramani isn’t recording a statement today, nor at the next hearing. She will only have to appear once the court summons her, for which the judge will have to agree that there are grounds for prosecution.
‘Ramani’s Tweets Against Me False, Baseless And Malicious’: Akbar
While explaining why the tweets by Ramani addressed to Akbar were “defamatory,” the former union minister said that he wasn’t named in the article. He also referred to her tweets as ‘false, baseless and malicious’.
He also added that when Ramani was asked why Akbar’s name was not used, she had stated in her own tweet of 8 October 2018 that this was “because I (Akbar) had done nothing.”
Akbar alleged that due to the tweets by Ramani, his reputation was tarnished.
Akbar further said on Wednesday that he had stepped down as minister to “seek justice in his personal capacity”, reported News18.
MJ Akbar Refers To Vogue Article by Priya Ramani in Statement
MJ Akbar in his statement refered to Priya Ramani’s article in Vogue (which hadn’t named him), and the tweet by her where she revealed the article was in fact about him.
Akbar in his statement said that he filed a criminal defamation complaint against Ramani based on the series of tweets by her.
“I’ve filed criminal defamation complaint against Priya Ramani for a series of tweets that she published. First one came to my notice on my return from my official tour,” he said.
Patiala House Court Records MJ Akbar’s Statement Before the Magistrate
MJ Akbar’s statement is being recorded at Patiala House Court in front of the magistrate in relation to his defamation complaint against Priya Ramani.
According to Bar and Bench, Akbar started off by talking about his journalistic career and went on to state how he has a reputation because of his career. He also explained why he has filed the complaint against Ramani.
Not Aware of Meeting Between Akbar and Sushma Swaraj: MEA Spokesperson
Commenting on MJ Akbar’s resignation, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that he is not aware of a meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Akbar.
“The minister has resigned and made a statement, I have nothing else to add. He was a part of an official meeting after he arrived in India, I am not aware of any meeting between him and Sushma Swaraj,” said Kumar.
Court To Record MJ Akbar’s Statement on 31 October
ACMM Samar Vishal said that the court has taken cognizance of the complaint. The court will record MJ Akbar’s statement on 31 October.
Akbar’s lawyer Geeta Luthra argued that the Patiala House court does have jurisdiction in the mater and that there are witnesses who will argue that Akbar’s reputation has been tarnished. She said that at this stage all that she has to show is that Akbar’s reputation has suffered, and that the allegedly defamatory remarks were read by others.
MJ Akbar’s Lawyer Geeta Luthra Makes Her Submissions
The defamation case hearing begins, with ACMM Samar Vishal reviewing the complaint. Akbar’s advocate Geeta Luthra has begun her submissions.
Patiala House Court to Hear MJ Akbar’s Defamation Complaint at 2 pm
The hearing on MJ Akbar’s criminal defamation complaint against Priya Ramani will start at 2pm at Patiala House Court.
Advocate Geeta Luthra is representing MJ Akbar. Akbar might not turn up for this hearing.
Editors Guild Issues Statement on Akbar, Hopes He Withdraws Defamation Case
The Editors Guild of India on Thursday, 18 October, issued a statement on the allegations which led editor-turned-politician, MJ Akbar, to step down from his post on Wednesday. Akbar is a former President of the Guild, NDTV reported.
While hailing the courage of the female journalists who called out Akbar for harassment, it also said that it hoped Akbar would display some grace and withdraw the criminal defamation case he had filed against journalist Priya Ramani.
Barkha Dutt Calls Off Solidarity Meet for Ramani
Veteran journalist Barkha Dutt had on Wednesday, 17 October, put out a tweet urging all journalists to meet at the Delhi Patiala Court, where the hearing is to take place, to show their solidarity with Priya Ramani.
However, in a later tweet, she said that she had found out that Ramani would not be present at the hearing and thus the meet should take place only when she is summoned.
Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani to be Heard at 2pm
The hearing for the private criminal defamation case filed by Union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani will take place at Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Thursday, 18 October, at 2 pm, CNN-News18 reported. The matter will be presented before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Samar Vishal.
Akbar is expected to be present at the hearing and will reportedly stand in the witness box to record his statement before the court, the report added.
President Kovind Accepts Akbar’s Resignation
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday accepted the resignation of MJ Akbar from the Union Council of Ministers with immediate effect, ANI reported.
“The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, has accepted the resignation of MJ Akbar from the Union Council of Ministers, with immediate effect, under clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said.
Akbar had tendered his resignation after several women journalists had accused him of sexual harassment.
Credit Must Go to Journalistic Fraternity, Civil Society: Shutapa Paul
Shutapa Paul, founder-editor, NewCrop, told The Quint that Akbar’s resignation was long overdue.
Akbar’s Ouster a Vindication of Congress’ Stand on #MeToo: AICC
Ragini Nayak, National Media Panelist, AICC, released a statement on Wednesday after Akbar’s resignation, calling it a ‘vindication of the Congress party’s unequivocal stand on the #MeToo campaign’.
“It is time for a fair trial, so that justice prevails. This country has a rule of law and any allegation levelled against anybody must pass the test of justice. We hope and wish that all the women fighting this tough battle would be heard and justice imparted,” the statement said.
It also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his silence on the matter. ” Now that MJ Akbar has finally resigned, will the PM, Shri Narendra Modi dare to speak up?” the statement said.
‘Shocked that Centre Gave Akbar Public Platform to Respond’
Several women, who had accused Akbar of sexual harassment, took to Twitter after the Union minister stepped down from his post on Wednesday.
Ruth David, a journalist with Bloomberg, said that the women who came forward raised their voices so that “others will not experience what we did”.
Meenal Baghel, editor, Mumbai Mirror, thanked all the people who supported the women.
Saba Naqvi, journalist, while speaking to CNNNews18 said: “I was shocked to see that the Centre allowed Akbar to take a public platform to counter-attack young girls who were previously his employees.”She also reacted on Twitter.
Akbar’s Continuation as Union Minister Was Indefensible: Nirupama Menon Rao
Former Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Menon Rao said that Akbar’s continuation as Union minister was indefensible and commended all the women who exposed his ‘sickening and exploitative behaviour’.
Welcome Akbar’s Decision to Resign: NCW Chief
Rekha Sharma, chief of the National Commission for Women, welcomed Akbar’s decision to resign.Speaking to ANI, she said: “It definitely took some time because some inquiry must be going on but finally they took the decision and that is what matters. I welcome this decision as I was looking forward to it.”
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal to Hear Akbar’s Case
Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal will hear the defamation complaint filed by MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani in the Patiala House Court on Thursday, 18 October, ANI reported.
Salute All Women Who Came Forward: Indira Jaising
Indira Jaising, senior Supreme Court advocate, commended all the women who came forward against the ‘gross violations of human rights by MJ Akbar’.
Shame on Akbar for Delaying Resignation: Swati Maliwal
Swati Maliwal, chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, said on Wednesday that the credit for Akbar’s resignation does not go to the Centre but directly to the #MeToo campaign.
Better Late Than Never: Shuma Raha
Shuma Raha, a journalist who had tweeted that Akbar had ‘behaved inappropriately’ with her, said that his continuing on as minister ‘was untenable’.
Akbar Took the Right Decision: Ramdas Athawale
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on Wednesday said that Akbar’s decision to step down from his post was the ‘right one’.
The Truth Eventually Prevails: Ghazala Wahab
Ghazala Wahab, one of the women who had accused Akbar of sexual harassment, said that she feels ‘hugely relieved’ after the Union minister’s resignation.
The Quint reached out to Wahab following Akbar’s resignation. Here are edited excerpts from the interaction:
Do you think there was an unwarranted delay on part of the Centre?Wahab: I don’t know whether it was an unwarranted delay on part of the BJP or who else was responsible. But yes, this could have happened on Sunday, it would have been nicer, more satisfying. But better late than never.
Was it the pressure from more than 20 journalists that led to his ouster?Wahab: Probably, what else could it be.
Is it a success of India’s MeToo movement being led by female journalists of this country?Wahab: Absoluely, this is one in a line of successes we’ve seen in the last few weeks. A lot of top heads have rolled in other areas also, other papers, organisations so it’s part of that movement.
On the defamation suit, do you think that it will stand the scrutiny of law?Wahab: I have no idea about law but the case has been thrust on Priya Ramani and she is not alone in this fight. All the women who have been a part of this campaign are supporting her and they will stand by her.
What led to you writing about your interaction with Akbar in the public domain almost 20 years after the incident?Wahab: When the story started coming out on social media, I thought of adding my bit to Twitter. But I held myself back as I did not want to be a part of something which was flimsy and could not stand ground… so, I deliberated on it and lot of my former colleagues were sending me messages that I must come out with my story. And something clicked and I thought may be this is the time that I should also lend my voice to the movement… so I wrote about it.
Do you think this is just tip of iceberg, that there are more MJ Akbars lurking around as organisations didn’t have a formal ICC fifteen years ago?Wahab: Absoluely, no doubt about that.
Feel Vindicated by Akbar’s Resignation: Priya Ramani
Priya Ramani, who had accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment, said that she feels ‘vindicated’ after the Union minister resigned from his post. However, she added that she is now awaiting justice in court.
MJ Akbar Resigns as MoS for MEA
MJ Akbar on Wednesday resigned from his post of Minister of State External Affairs, ANI reported.
Priya Ramani Denies Initiating Crowdfunding for Case Against Akbar
Priya Ramani in a tweet on Wednesday denied initiating a crowdfunding initiative for the defamation case against MJ Akbar.
MJ Akbar Asked to Senior Minister in the Loop about Allegations: Report
MJ Akbar has been asked by the government to keep a senior Cabinet minister abreast of how the former is managing the ‘crisis’, an Economic Times report said.
When the allegations had surfaced, there was also a view to cut short his trip, sources have told ET. “There was also a view that he cut short his trip but it was shot down eventually after discussions with a senior Cabinet minister. Seniors in the government felt it would not send the proper signal to the international community if a foreign commitment is not honoured,” the source said.
An interview was also considered, but eventually a statement was released after deliberation with Akbar’s counsel.
“An interview was considered, but as he got down to discuss the statement, it was felt that it was strong enough to counter the allegations.” the person was quoted by ET as saying.
The source added that the statement was toned down from what the MoS wanted as it was “too aggressive”.
Congress Attacks BJP’s Silence on MJ Akbar
The Congress on Wednesday attacked the BJP’s silence on allegations against MJ Akbar, and said that the party’s indifference establishes BJP’s ‘underlying patriarchy and indifference to justice’.
All India Mahila Congress also attacked Sambit Patra for ignoring a question on MJ Akbar.
Former Asian Age Journalists Akshaya Mukul, Rasheed Kidwai, and Kamlesh Singh Speak Out in Support of the Survivors
Author Akshaya Mukul and Rasheed Kidwai, former journalists at The Asian Age, have spoken in support of the survivors who have accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment.
Kamlesh Singh, another former journalist, came out in support as well.
Twenty Women Journalists Come Out in Support of Ramani; to Testify Against Akbar
Nineteen women journalists who have worked with The Asian Age came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani through a joint statement issued by them. One journalist from Deccan Chronicle, Christina Francis (2005-2011), also signed the statement.
Meenal Baghel (1993 to 1996), Manisha Pande (1993-1998), Tushita Patel (1993-2000), Kanika Gahlaut (1995-1998), Suparna Sharma (1993-1996), Ramola Talwar Badam (1994-1995), Hoihnu Hauzel (1999-2000), Aisha Khan (1995-1998) and Kushalrani Gulab (1993-1997) have signed the statement.
Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997), Malavika Banerjee (1995-1998), A T Jayanthi (1995-1996), Hamida Parkar (1996-1999), Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar (1996-2000), Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (1999-2000), Reshmi Chakraborty (1996-98), Kiran Manral (1993-96) and Sanjari Chatterjee are the other journalists to sign the statement.
The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against Akbar.
You Got Up, Grabbed Me and Kissed Me Hard: Another Journalist Calls Out Akbar
Tushita Patel, a journalist, has accused MJ Akbar of sexually harassing her multiple times in the 1990s. Patel called out Akbar in an article she wrote for Scroll and narrated he experiences with Akbar.
” When I reached your room, you were sullen, sitting there drinking tea and in a vile mood. You started yelling at me about being late, about my work. I was trying to mumble some words. Suddenly you got up, grabbed me and kissed me hard – your stale tea breath and your bristly moustache are still etched in the recesses of my memory. ” she wrote in the article.
“When you couldn’t find me, you desperately sent out a search party. At some point, someone found me. Akbar saab is looking for you. Heavy with dread, I waited till it was almost time for your flight and met you at the most public of areas in the office – near the reception. You said chirpily, “Where did you disappear? I’ve been looking for you – we have to discuss your page.” And with that you ushered me into the empty conference room, grabbed me again and kissed me,” she wrote while narrating another instance.
Former Catch News Reporter Initiates Online Petition Seeking Akbar’s Removal
Priyata Brajabasi, formerly a reporter with Catch News initiated a change.org petition seeking MJ Akbar’s removal as Minister of State for External Affairs.
The petition asks BJP President Amit Shah to expel Akbar from the party.
Criminal Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani to be Heard on 18 Oct
Delhi’s Patiala House court has listed the matter of the defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani for 18 October.
MJ Akbar Has Given His Stand: JP Nadda
Union Minister MJ Akbar has “given his stand” on the sexual harassment allegations against him, Union Health Minister JP Nadda said Monday.
“MJ Akbar has spoken yesterday itself. He has given his stand and he is going for a legal course of action”, he said responding to questions on the issue at a press conference.
MJ Akbar Wants to Silence Victims With Intimidation: Priya Ramani
Priya Ramani issued a statement against the defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against her, saying, that he has made his stand clear with it. She also said that Akbar intends to silence the victims with intimidation and harassment.
Akbar Files Defamation Case Against Priya Ramani in Delhi’s Patiala House Court
Union Minister MJ Akbar on Monday filed a criminal defamation case in Delhi’s Patiala House Court against journalist Priya Ramani.
Mj Akbar vs Priya Ramani by on Scribd
(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)