Union Minter of State for Foreign Affairs M J Akbar resigned amidst growing protest over his continuance as the minister following sexual molestation charge by at least 20 former colleagues.
Mr. Akbar, did try to take it on legal route after formal denial, but this evening he tendered his resignation as the BJP did not dare to alienate women of the country by keeping him in the ministry.
“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. I am deeply grateful to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and to the external Affair Minister Smt Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country,” he said in a statement.
Mr Akbar, 67, has been named in multiple accounts that have surfaced in the #MeToo movement that started in India after former actor Tanushree Dutta accused her co-star Nana Patekar of harassment during a film shoot 10 years ago.
As the #MeToo movement gains ground, 19 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani who has accused union minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment, a joint statement issued by them said.
The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.
“Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the 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,” the journalists said in the joint statement undersigned by them.
“What 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 women over the years.
“He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament,” the statement said.
“When 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 Akbar engendered and presided over at The Asian Age,” it said.
Many journalists from multiple media platforms have come forward with their stories of harassment against the Minister of State for External Affairs under the social media campaign ‘#MeToo’ against sexual misconduct.
MJ Akbar, however, has denied the allegations and on Monday filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ms Ramani.