Allegations of sexual misconduct against me ‘baseless’: MJ Akbar

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India’s junior foreign minister, MJ Akbar, has described multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him as “wild and baseless” and threatened to take legal action against the women who have made the accusations.

The comments by Akbar, 67, follow widespread calls on social media for his resignation as minister of state for external affairs in the Indian government, after at least 10 women came forward to accuse him of harassment.

“The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice,” said Akbar on Sunday in a one-page statement given to Reuters partner ANI in India.


The veteran editor, who founded several publications, has been accused of a range of inappropriate behaviour by female journalists who previously worked as his subordinates.

Many journalists have called for Akbar to be sacked and have threatened to boycott events he is attending until he resigns.

The government has remained silent on the issue for days, while Akbar was attending a conference in Nigeria. He returned to New Delhi on Sunday morning to find a crowd of reporters waiting outside his residence.

Akbar said he plans to fight the allegations and questioned if they were politically motivated.

“Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge,” he said.

Harinder Baweja, one of the women who has accused Akbar, criticised his response.

#METOO in India

Akbar is one of the highest-profile figures so far to face accusations in India’s burgeoning #MeToo movement.

The movement, which began in the United States to amplify accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in media and entertainment over a year ago, has picked up pace in India in the past few weeks after a Bollywood actress accused a colleague of inappropriate behaviour on the set of a film they were shooting in 2008.

Since then, over a dozen men from media, entertainment and the art world have been accused of offences ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Several media organisations have sacked or sent employees on leave in recent days after a string of similar allegations.

In the latest allegation to surface against Akbar, Majlie de Puy Kamp, a New York-based journalist, said Akbar molested her when she was an 18-year-old intern at his newspaper Asian Age in New Delhi in 2007.

“What he did was disgusting, he violated my boundaries, betrayed my trust,” de Puy Kamp told the news website Huffington Post India.

But these are not the only accusations, complaints have appeared all over social media from men and women alike.

India’s main opposition Congress party has demanded Akbar’s resignation, while Maneka Gandhi, the minister for women and child development, has called for an investigation into the allegations against Akbar.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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