Published: Sat, October 20, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

#MeToo: MJ Akbar resigns as MoS MEA after sexual harassment allegations

#MeToo: MJ Akbar resigns as MoS MEA after sexual harassment allegations

An Indian government minister resigned on Wednesday, saying he was doing so in order to fight accusations of sexual harassment levied by several women, the most high-profile casualty of a growing #MeToo movement. The minister was earlier defiant and ignored demands seeking his resignation.

Mr Akbar, 67, who wrote in his resignation letter that he had made a decision to step down to "seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity", has filed a defamation suit against Ms Priya Ramani, the first journalist to name him in a tweet.

MJ Akbar, the former editor of newspapers like The Telegraph and The Asian Age was named by Ramani in a tweet on October 8.

"Since I have chose 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", Akbar said in a statement.

President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the resignation of M J Akbar from the Union council of ministers on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

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Akbar has accused Ramani, the first to have called him out, of "intentionally putting forward malicious, fabricated and salacious" allegations to harm his reputation.

The tweet by Ramani that Luthra referred to said: "I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story".

"It is created to push women back into silent compliance and will silence the voices of the many who have not yet spoken up", it said. His resignation comes in the wake of a series of allegations of sexual harassment levelled by at least 16 women.

The women who have accused Akbar of inappropriate behavior include journalists who are now in prominent roles in the media industry. The suit was filed by senior partner Sandeep Kapur of Karanjawala & Co.

"Eventually the truth prevails", Ghazala Wahab, another journalist who accused Akbar of making physical advances in office, told CNN NEWS 18.

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As the allegations against Akbar continued to mount, his presence in the cabinet became a liability for a government that has sought to present itself as a champion of women and girls.

Minister Akbar is the latest to resign following the flood of accusations that have followed.

The #Me Too movement in India exploded after actress Tanushree Dutta spoke of harassment by actor Nana Patekar on the set of the film Horn OK Pleassss a decade ago.

Over the next few days, three more women came on the record, detailing various allegations of harassment. "When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a Tweet: "Never named him because he didn't 'do" anything.'", Akbar said.

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