A day after Union minister M J Akbar filed a defamation case against a journalist, two more women came forward with their accounts of alleged harassment by him, undeterred and unafraid as the #MeToo juggernaut continued to roll Tuesday with newer names being ‘outed’.
While it was a working day like any other for the Minister of State for External Affairs, who has been accused of harassment and molestation by about 16 women, the movement against sexual exploitation gathered more force with artist Jatin Das joining the list of celebrities being named on social media.
The Padma Bhushan award winner has denied the allegations by entrepreneur Nisha Bora, who claimed he groped and forcefully kissed her in 2004. “I am shocked… I don’t know her, I have never met her, and even if I did meet somebody somewhere one doesn’t behave like this… It is vulgar,” Das said.
Tuesday saw some fallouts too, with two senior executives in the Hindi film industry losing their jobs and Congress’ student wing NSUI president submitting his resignation.
Akbar, who has engaged a top law firm to file a criminal defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani, lauded the Modi government for its implementation of the National Food Security Act in a tweet.
However, he had more to reckon with as new allegations tumbled out of his 1990s cupboard when he was editor of several publications.
Journalist Tushita Patel alleged that Akbar invited her to his hotel room on the pretext of some work and opened the door dressed only in his underwear. It was early 1990s when she was a 22-year-old trainee at ‘The Telegraph’. She has also accused him of molesting her twice while she was working in Hyderabad in the ‘Deccan Chronicle’.
Businesswoman Swati Gautam, writing for ‘The Quint’, claimed Akbar met her in his hotel room dressed only in his bathrobe when she was a student in Kolkata and went to invite him as a guest speaker for an event at St Xavier’s College.
Gautam alleged that Akbar rolled a glass down to her, suggesting she make a drink for him. “When my initial shock wore off, I too bent down and rolled it back at him. That buoyed me up. Giving him a hard stare, I got up and walked out of that dratted room and as far away as I could from The Bathrobe…,” she said.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Indian Women’s Press Corps said it was deeply dismayed the government has not instituted any formal inquiry despite the long list of complaints involving the “minister of state in the ministry of external affairs”. “We very strongly feel that the continuation of the minister in his position only sends out the wrong message that the government is apathetic to these serious concerns,” the organisation comprising women journalists said without naming Akbar.