Hours after journalist Pallavi Gogoi wrote in Washington Post alleging that she was brutally raped by MJ Akbar in the 90s during his time as the Asian Age editor, the latter’s wife has come to his defence. In a statement issued to the news agency ANI, Mallika Akbar said that Pallavi was in a consensual relationship with Akbar.
She wrote, “I have been silent all this while as the ‘me too’ campaign has been unleashed against my husband, Mr. MJ Akbar. However, the Washington Post article by Pallavi Gogoi alleging that she was raped by him forces me to step in with what I know to be true.”
Mallika said that ‘over 20 yrs ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in our home’ adding that she learned of her and Akbar’s ‘involvement through her calls and her public display of affection in my presence.’
She said, “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.”
This followed Akbar’s own reaction that his relationship with Pallavi Gogoi was consensual and at no time the latter gave an impression that she acting under duress. He told ANI, “Somewhere around 1994, Ms Pallavi Gogoi and I entered into a consensual relationship that spanned several months. This relationship gave rise to talk and would later cause strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on best note.”
While writing for the Washington Post, Pallavi had said that she informed two close friends including Tushita about being allegedly raped by Akbar at a hotel room in Jaipur.
Pallavi had alleged that 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?”
Akbar has filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who first wrote about 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.