Under #Metoo firestorm, Akbar issues statement: ‘Allegations false; will take legal action’

Under #Metoo firestorm, Akbar issues statement
Under #Metoo firestorm, Akbar issues statement

Union minister M J Akbar on Sunday rejected the allegations of sexual misconduct levelled against him by several women as “false and fabricated” and vowed legal action while suggesting this was part of an “agenda” as the charges came a few months before a general election.

Hours after returning from a trip to Africa, the Minister of State for External Affairs issued a statement trashing the charges against him, saying accusations without evidence has become a “viral fever” among some sections.

“The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice. I could not reply earlier as I was on an official tour abroad,” he said.

Stating that these allegations have caused irreparable damage to his reputation, the BJP Rajya Sabha MP said, “Whatever be the case, now that I have returned, my lawyers will look into these wild and baseless allegations in order to decide our future course of legal action.”

Questioning the timing of the allegations, Akbar said why has the #MeToo storm risen a few months before the 2019 general elections and wondered if there was an agenda behind it.

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

Terming the entire situation as distressing, Akbar said, “Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy.”

Over the last few days, multiple women have come out with accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist as the #MeToo movement swept social media, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of life.

The women who accused Akbar of sexual harassment including Priya Ramani, Ghazala Wahab, Shuma Raha, Anju Bharti and Shutapa Paul among others.

Akbar gave a point by point rebuttal to claim of all these women.

He said while some of these accusations are total, “unsubstantiated hearsay” others confirm, on record, that “I didn’t do anything”.

“It is pertinent to remember that both Ms Ramani and Ms Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; this clearly establishes that they had no apprehension and discomfort. The reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent: as Ms Ramani has herself stated, ‘he never did anything’,” he said.

After Akbar’s name cropped up on social media earlier this week as part of the #MeToo movement, demands for his sacking were made by some political parties.

While the CPI(M) and the Shiv Sena demanded Akbar’s resignation, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said the #MeToo campaign is a “very big issue”. He has not commented on Akbar directly. PTI