Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation

MJ Akbar who resigned Wednesday has called allegations made against him

MJ Akbar who resigned Wednesday has called allegations made against him"false and fabricated

Meanwhile, Delhi's Patiala House Court on Tuesday, 16 October, listed the matter of the defamation case filed by MJ Akbar against Priya Ramani for 18 October.

Akbar said in a statement that he would "challenge false accusations" in a personal capacity, referring to a criminal case he filed Monday against the first woman to accuse him.

Akbar stepped down today as the Minister of State for External Affairs, following a spate of allegations of sexual harassment during his days as editor of several publications, by several women journalists.

Unlike in many countries, where defamation is a civil offence, Indian law also has provisions which classify it as a criminal offence punishable with a jail term of up to two years.

By speaking up, Ramani had "lifted the lid on the culture of casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation" that Akbar engendered and presided over at the Asian Age, the statement said.

Ramani had recently taken to Twitter to recall a blog she had written in 2017 about her harassment by a senior journalist some 20 years ago, but had not named Akbar in the article. We look forward to you, Honourable Rashtrapatiji, to uphold the dignity of the many women who have put their reputations at stake in making these allegations. In a sense I feel vindicated.

In the first incident, Mr. Akbar greeted her in his hotel room, clad in just his underwear.

As the allegations against Akbar continued to mount, his presence in the cabinet became a liability for a government that has sought to present itself as a champion of women and girls.

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Akbar is the most high profile person to quit in recent weeks amid a snowballing #MeToo social media campaign that has seen allegations of sexual harassment against men in workplaces, primarily in the media and entertainment industries.

The controversy was also becoming a ripe target for Modi's critics.

Akbar also questioned the veracity of the allegations, and said, "Why has this storm risen a few months before the general elections [the 2019 Lok Sabha election]? The allegations on him should be properly investigated", Athawale said. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2016. He did not respond to a request to comment on the defamation suit on Tuesday.

One of India's most prominent editors, Akbar has edited leading English language dailies The Telegraph and The Asian Age.

Akbar denied Wahab's accusations in a statement Sunday.

"In attempting to refute my story of molestation and harassment, Akbar has tried to hide inside his supposedly "very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass". At least one other anonymous account is believed to be about him. "These allegations are false, motivated and baseless".

Other women spoke out, too. "I am happy right now". "But these issues which are so prone to misunderstanding that there is no point debating them", Akbar wrote upon being confronted. "The #MeToo movement needs support across party lines".

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