Union Minister MJ Akbar, who is surrounded with allegations of sexual harassment against him, will take legal action in the matter, he said in a detailed statement today. He further dismissed the allegations as "false and fabricated".
After returning to India from a tour of Africa, Akbar on Sunday wrote a letter to Prime Minister's Office (PMO) putting forward his side of story amid mounting demand for his resignation over allegations of sexual harassment by a number of women journalists in the last few days.
"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 in a statement.
"Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. 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," he added.
Akbar also sought to question as to why such a "storm" has risen just months ahead of a general election.
"Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill," he said.
READ: MJ Akbar's detailed statement on sexual harassment allegations
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. Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever among some sections. 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. Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill. Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action. Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article. She did not however name me as she knew it was an incorrect story. When asked recently why she had not named me, she replied, in a Tweet: “Never named him because he didn't 'do' anything. If I didn't do anything, where and what is the story? There's no story. But a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened. Some are total, unsubstantiated hearsay; others confirm, on the record, that I didn't’t do anything. Shutapa Paul states, “The man never laid a hand on me.”Shuma Raha says, “I must clarify, however, that he didn't’t actually ‘do’ anything”.One woman, Anju Bharti, went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim. Another accusation was made repeatedly by Ms Ghazala Wahab, in an effort to damage my reputation. She claimed that she had been molested in office, 21 years ago. This is 16 years before I entered public life, and when I was in media. The only office where I worked with Ghazala Wahab was that of The Asian Age. A part of the editorial team then worked out of a small hall. At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. Others had tables and chairs two feet away. It is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day. These allegations are false, motivated and baseless. Pertinent to remember Ms Ramani and Ms Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents; clearly establishes they had no apprehension and discomfort. Reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent,as Ms Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything.
Multiple women in the last few days 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.
Akbar's name cropped up on social media earlier this week as part of the #MeToo movement. The Congress has already demanded Akbar's ouster.
A group of journalists on Saturday held a protest here expressing solidarity with their women colleagues who have demanded proper implementation of the prevention of sexual harassment act to ensure dignity at workplace.
The protesting journalists also sought immediate action against those facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
They also demanded the removal of Akbar from the union council of ministers.
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