Congress demands resignation of MJ Akbar after more journalists accuse him of sexual harassment

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The Congress on Tuesday demanded the resignation of MJ Akbar, a junior foreign minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet after serious allegations of sexual misconduct emerged against him.

MJ Akbar
(Indian Express/File Photo)

“Union minister MJ Akbar should either give a satisfactory answer to the allegations or he should resign. We demand an inquiry into the matter,” Congress lawmaker, Jaipal Reddy was quoted by news agency ANI.

The Congress launched its attack against Akbat hours after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj refused to take questions on the subject.

Earlier, another Congress leader and a former union minister, Manish Tewari, too had demanded explanation from Akbar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had said, “This matter should be investigated. We would like to hear from both the minister in question and the Prime Minister on this issue.”

Allegations against Akbar, a journalist-turned-politician, were first made in a blog by journalist Priya Ramani in October last year. Writing in Vogue, Ramani had written without naming Akbar called him a ‘talented predator’ while recounting her experience.

Another journalist Shuma Raha shared her own experience of being interviewed for a job in Asian Age by Akbar in 1995 at Kolkata’s Taj Bengal hotel. She wrote, “I must clarify, however, that he didn’t actually “do” anything. But the whole experience of an interview sitting on a bed in a hotel room followed by an invitation to come over for a drink that evening, was rattling and deeply uncomfortable.

On Wednesday, another former journalist wrote for a website alleging how Akbar had made her life miserable for months as she desperately resisted the latter’s sexual advances. The journalist then wrote that she had to quit her job at the Asian Age, which Akbar edited, after his sexual predatory became unbearable for her.

In another blog on Firstpost, an anonymous journalist recounted her own horror story of being in the same room with her editor, who was notorious for sexually assaulting her juniors. Without naming Akbar she narrated an incident when she was invited by her editor-in-chief at a Mumbai hotel. After reaching the hotel, she was invited in the editor’s room, where he asked her to fetch ice-cubes from the mini bar. As she got up picking ice cubes, she found her boss standing right next to her.

She wrote, “By the time I stood up, he was right behind me, uncomfortably close. I started to give him the ice bucket but he simply took a cube of ice and traced it down my arm.

“I froze. My mind rushed with so many possible exit strategies, but my feet didn’t move and my parched throat didn’t let out a sound. Because I neither pushed his hand away nor did I start to leave the room, he forced his face against mine, slobbering over my lips most disgustingly. A wave of repulsion swept through me and I thought I could taste my own bile in my mouth. My hand suddenly lost grip of the ice box and it fell on his feet.”

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