Indian Minister MJ Akbar denies sexual misconduct allegations

Indian Minister MJ Akbar denies sexual misconduct allegations

India's junior foreign minister Sunday dismissed sexual harassment allegations made against him by several women, mostly journalists, and ducked calls for his resignation as the country's fledgling #MeToo movement gathers pace.

The complaint has been filed before a magisterial court at Patiala House through Karanjawala & Co. through its senior partner Sandeep Kapur along with Principal Associate Veer Sandhu, Senior Associates Niharika Karanjawala, Apoorva Pandey, Mayank Datta and Associate Gudipati G Kashyap.

Calling the accusations without evidence "viral fever" among some sections, Akbar said he will initiate legal action against those who have levelled allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against him.

Hinting a political vendetta, he said "Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election?"

"Mr Akbar's conspiracy theory that the #MeToo charges have settled upon him because elections are now looming is weak and totally unconvincing".

Indian journalists expressed anger at Akbar's denial. Almost 12 women have levelled allegations of sexual harassment against him in the past one week.

"The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice".

Akbar is insistent in the complaint that the accusations against him form part of an agenda, and that they have damaged his goodwill and reputation.

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"I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour overseas", he added.

In a tweet on October 8, she had revealed that an article she had written a year ago about an editor inviting her to his hotel room for a job interview and asking her to sit on the bed with him, was Akbar.

"Needless to say, I am ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence", she said in a statement.

With his strong retort, Akbar attempted to poke holes into claims made by Ghazala Wahab, another journalist who penned her ordeal in an online publication, The Wire. He has denied the charges as "false, wild and baseless". He had a long career in journalism and launched India's first weekly political news magazine, Sunday, in 1976, and two daily newspapers "The Telegraph" and "The Asian Age" in 1989 and 1994 respectively.

Harinder Baweja, one of the journalists who accused Akbar of sexual harassment, tweeted, "The only "agenda", to borrow the word from M.J. Akbar's statement is. enough is enough". "You be the judge", he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had indicated it would take a clear stand on allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar once he explains his position upon his return.

Akbar's criminal petition claimed that "the accused herself, while putting forward the aforementioned defamatorystatements, relating to incidents which allegedly occurred 20 years ago, simultaneously admits that the complainant has not done anything to her".

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