Union minister and former journalist MJ Akbar, who is facing calls of stepping down from his post after nearly a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment in the wake of India’s #MeToo movement, finally broke his silence. The Minister of State for External Affairs, who was on an official tour in Nigeria, rubbished all the allegations after returning to India on Sunday.
While calling the accusations levelled against him by women journalists “false and fabricated”, Akbar didn’t talk about stepping down from his post, contrary to what many media reports said. “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 told ANI.
“Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing,” he added.
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: #MJAkbar (file pic) pic.twitter.com/dRE0qXMiCW
— ANI (@ANI) October 14, 2018
Akbar also categorically denied all the allegations made against him. He said that the accusations made by Ghazala Wahab, who (worked under him at The Asian Age), were an effort to damage is reputation.
“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,” he said.
Akbar, a Rajya Sabha MP from Madhya Pradesh, has had a career in journalism spanning multiple decades. He was the Editor-in-Chief and the Editorial Director of The Sunday Guardian, a weekly newspaper which was founded under his helm. He has also worked with several media organisations including India Today, Headlines Today, The Telegraph, The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle. After the MeToo movement in India gained momentum in the past few days, a total of 11 women journalists levelled allegations of harassment and abuse against him.