The #MeToo movement enveloping India’s newsrooms, film industry, education institutions, stand-up comic scene and the Catholic Church has reached the Central government’s doorstep. Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar has been accused by 4 women journalists of sexual harassment when Akbar was a veteran journalist.
Journalist Priya Ramani wrote an article in Vogue last year about how a “male boss” interviewed her in a hotel in Mumbai. She confirmed in a tweet on October 8 that the person she was referring to in the article was Union Minister MJ Akbar. She wrote in the article:
“The bed, a scary interview accompaniment, was already turned down for the night. Come sit here, you said at one point, gesturing to a tiny space near you. I’m fine, I replied with a strained smile.”
She also accused him of being “an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer”.
Since her tweet, at least three other women have claimed that Akbar used to conduct interviews in hotels which made them feel inappropriate.
MJ Akbar is the founding editor of The Telegraph and was associated with other leading media houses including India Today, The Asian Age, The Sunday Guardian, Deccan Chronicle and Headlines Today. He is currently a member of Rajya Sabha from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
India’s #MeToo movement began last month when five nuns demanded action against Bishop Franco Mulakkal who they say had raped one of the nuns 13 times between 2014 and 2016. The movement gained limelight after former actress Tanushree Dutta accused actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment during an incident that took place on the sets of Horn ‘Ok’ Pleasss in 2008. Comedian Utsav Chakraborty employed with comedy troupe AIB was accused of sending unsolicited private pictures to a female employee. Director Vikas Bahl was also accused of harassment by women including actress Kangana Ranaut.