Weeks after over a dozen-odd journalists levelled serious allegations of sexual misconduct against MJ Akbar, a US-based journalist has now come forward to share her story of being raped by then editor of The Asian Age newspaper in the 90s.
Pallavi Gogoi, who wrote her harrowing experience in The Washington Post, said Akbar was brutal in his sexual attack as he raped her in a Jaipur hotel. According to The Washington Post, it ‘reached out to Sandeep Kapur, M.J. Akbar’s lawyer, for comment on the accounts laid out in this piece. The response: “My client states that these [incidents and allegations] are false and expressly denied.”
In her detailed piece, Pallavi Gogoi wrote that she once travelled to a remote village a few hundred miles from Delhi to cover the ‘appalling saga of a young couple who were hanged by members of the village because the lovers were from different castes.’
“The assignment was to end in Jaipur. When I checked back, Akbar said I could come discuss the story in his hotel in Jaipur, far from Delhi. In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?”
She added, “What was worse was that after that first time, his grip over me got tighter. I stopped fighting his advances because I felt so helpless. He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally. He would burst into loud rages in the newsroom if he saw me talking to male colleagues my own age. It was frightening.”
Pallavi then wrote that she was later given a London posting by Akbar adding that she readily accepted the offer thinking this will end her ordeal as she will be away from her editor. But, London provided no relief to her.
She wrote, “I recall the time he worked himself into a rage in the London office because he had seen me talk in a friendly manner to a male colleague. After my colleagues left work that evening, he hit me and went on a rampage, throwing things from the desk at me — a pair of scissors, a paperweight, whatever he could get his hands on. I ran away from the office and hid in Hyde Park for an hour. I remember telling my friend Tushita the next day. I spoke to my mom and my sister then, but couldn’t bear to share details. It was apparent to them how distraught I was, and they wanted me to come back.
“I was in shreds — emotionally, physically, mentally. I knew I had to get out of London. I knew I had to get out of London. Besides Tushita, I shared all this with another close friend, Suparna. I told them I was going to run away from the misery.”
She quit Asian Age after being physically assaulted by Akbar in London and joined a US-based publication in New York. Pallavi went on to add that she had shared her experience at that time with two of her friends.
Akbar has filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who first wrote his alleged sexual predatory at the work place in the 90s. He had to resign his post as India’s junior foreign minister after nearly 20 women came forward to accuse him of sexual predatory.