Indian Minister Resigns to Contest #MeToo Allegations in Court

MJ Akbar who resigned Wednesday has called allegations made against him

The journalist-turned-politician, who became Minister of State for External Affairs two years ago, is the first in the BJP-led government to quit over an allegation.

Since then, more than a dozen men in politics, media, entertainment and the arts have been accused of a range of offences, with several prominent figures either resigning or being suspended as a result.

Akbar's boss, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, and Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi both were opposed to him continuing in office while he fought a legal battle against his accusers, the sources, who can not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said.

Meanwhile, the additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal will hear the criminal defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani tomorrow.

On Wednesday, while welcoming Akbar's resignation, Nayak added that her party also thinks that the #MeToo movement should expand into creating a space for "fair trial so that justice prevails". Yet a number of accused men have denied allegations in public statements or hit back at women for speaking out.

The #MeToo movement, which began in the United States more than a year ago in response to accusations of sexual harassment and abuse by powerful men in the entertainment industry, gained traction in India last month after former actor Tanushree Dutta accused her co-star Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of a film in 2008.

PM Modi asked MJ Akbar to step down as Union Minister over #MeToo allegations by women journalists, claims media reports.


A microphone and placards are placed on the pavement as Indian journalists attend a protest against what they say is sexual harassment in the workplace in New Delhi, India, October 13, 2018. His resignation comes in the wake of a series of allegations of sexual harassment levelled by at least 16 women.

The complaints by alleged abusers could derail a movement that some say is still only scratching the surface of India's deep-rooted misogyny and violence toward women. Simultaneously, he also brought up the case of BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, MLA from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, who was accused of raping a woman. "If we lose this battle, we're losing the war", said Sandhya Menon, one of the women journalists leading the movement.

Patel, in the same blog, accused him of molesting her twice while she was working in Hyderabad in the Deccan Chronicle in 1993.

Mr Akbar, who was travelling at the time of the allegations, returned to India on Monday and filed a defamation suit against Ms Ramani.

"Men who are in positions of power often do this", said Maneka Gandhi, minister for women and child development, speaking to television news channel India Today.

"What Mr Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused huge pain and indeed harm to many, many women over the years", the 20 journalists willing to testify in court said in a statement. The case is due in a Delhi court on Thursday.

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