New Delhi: Union minister M.J. Akbar, who is facing allegations of sexual harassment by a number of women journalists, returned to the country on Sunday from a foreign tour.
Replying to a volley of questions from reporters at the airport, the minister of state for external affairs said, “There will be a statement later.”
Over the last few days, multiple women have offered their accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar when he was a journalist as the #MeToo movement picked up speed. Ghazala Wahab detailed, on The Wire, her experience working for the Asian Age when he was editor in chief of the paper. She accused him of repeatedly harassing her physically and mentally to the point that she was forced to quit the paper.
In the last week, nine women have come out against M.J. Akbar detailing harrowing accounts of sexual harassment. Priya Ramani, a journalist, had outed him in one of her stories in Vogue without naming him in 2017. She alleged that Akbar set up an interview late at night in a hotel room, asked her to have a drink with him and also to sit next to him on the bed all the while singing old Hindi songs. “Never named him because he didn’t ‘do’ anything. Lots of women have worse stories about this predator – maybe they’ll share,” she tweeted.
Freelance journalist Kanika Gahlaut, speaking to the Indian Express, said, “One did hear, from the beginning, from before we joined that M.J. (Akbar) had a glad eye, and we were forewarned. Akbar ‘did it to everyone’.”
There was an indication by the BJP that it is likely to take a clear stand on allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar once he explains his position upon his return. BJP President, Amit Shah on Saturday said the veracity of these allegations had to be ascertained.
Party sources have said the charges against him are serious, and his continuance as a minister is no longer guaranteed.
A final call will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the sources said.
(with PTI inputs)