MJ Akbar has been accused of sexual harassment by around a dozen women.
Union Minister MJ Akbar, who has been accused by nearly a dozen women as a sexual predator during his days as a newspaper editor, would not resign, sources told NDTV. The government has nothing to do with the accusations against him and his stepping down may set a bad precedent, sources said.
"Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill," MJ Akbar said, over accusations of sexual harassment.
In response to questions from journalists at the Delhi airport, Mr Akbar said, "There will be a statement later on". The women who have accused Mr Akbar of sexual harassment in the #MeToo campaign sweeping the nation are mostly journalists who worked with him or appeared for job interviews when he was editor.
Here are the updates on this big story:
Journalist and author Nilanjana Roy calls Minister MJ Akbar's statement refuting the allegations as "disgusting".
"Hubris piled on to impunity", says Lawyer Karuna Nundy after MJ Akbar rejects sexual harassment allegations and warns of legal actions.
Union Minister Ramdas Athwale says, "If a person is accused of something it must be investigated. Many people have been found guilty in the MeToo movement. But I think proper enquiry should be done. However, there can also be an attempt to defame politicians as well as actors."
Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai questions PM Modi's silence on the allegations against Minister MJ Akbar.
"Shame the Indian republic", says journalist Sagarika Ghose after MJ Akbar today dodged calls for his resignation and said allegations of sexual harassment against him were "false, fabricated and deeply distressing".
Journalist Maha Siddiqui talks about the difficulty of #MeToo movement after MJ Akbar refutes allegations.
Reason why Priya Ramani and Ghazala Wahab remained silent is apparent, says Minister Akbar
MJ Akbar says, "Pertinent to remember Priya Ramani and Ghazala Wahab kept working with me even after these alleged incidents. It clearly establishes they had no apprehension and discomfort. Reason why they remained silent for decades is very apparent, as Ms Ramani has herself stated, I never did anything."
How will no one else in vicinity not know, questions MJ Akbar
He says, "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."
Minister Akbar refutes journalist and author Ghazala Wahab's accusations
MJ Akbar denies Ghazala Wahab's account of harassment. He says, "She claimed that she had been molested in office, 21 years ago. This is 16 years before I entered public life, and when I was in media."
Continuing with it, he says, "The only office where I worked with Ghazala Wahab was that of The Asian Age. A part of the editorial team then worked out of a small hall. At the time concerned, I had a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass. Others had tables and chairs two feet away."
Besides Priya Ramani, the other women who spoke out against MJ Akbar include Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shutapa Paul, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlout, Kadambari M Wade, Majlie de Puy Kamp and Ruth David.
Naming other woman who have spoken out against him, he quotes accounts of theirs and says, "Shutapa Paul states, "The man never laid a hand on me." Shuma Raha says, "I must clarify, however, that he didn't actually 'do' anything". One woman, Anju Bharti, went to the absurd extent of claiming I was partying in a swimming pool. I do not know how to swim."
MJ Akbar denies all allegations against him
He says, "If I didn't do anything, where and what is the story? There's no story. But a sea of innuendo, speculation and abusive diatribe has been built around something that never happened. Some are total unsubstantiated hearsay, other's confirm, on the record, that I didn't do anything."
"Priya Ramani did not name me because it was an incorrect story": Minister MJ Akbar
#MeToo: Minister Akbar says that journalist Priya Ramani began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article but did not name him because he "didn't do anything."
The accusations started pouring in after journalist Priya Ramani tweeted on October 8 that Mr Akbar was the man she had referred to in an incident she shared in a magazine article a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US triggered the #MeToo movement.
Read Here: MeToo Movement: Minister MJ Akbar Won't Quit Over #MeToo, Warns Legal Action: 10 Points
Union Minister MJ Akbar today said the allegations of sexual harassment against him are "false and fabricated" and that he would take legal action in the matter. Mr Akbar, 67, was on an official tour in Nigeria when nearly a dozen women came out with detailed accounts of his alleged sexual misconduct as part of a thread on social media that has snowballed into a #MeToo movement in India. "Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison... This is deeply distressing. I will be taking appropriate legal action," Mr Akbar said.
MeToo Movement: "Lies do not have legs," says MJ Akbar, who has been outed by a dozen women as a sexual predator
Minister MJ Akbar calls these accusations and "lies" and says, "Lies do not have legs, but they do contain poison, which can be whipped into a frenzy. This is deeply distressing."
MeToo: "Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election?" asks MJ Akbar
"Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge. These false, baseless and wild allegations have caused irreparable damage to my reputation and goodwill," says MJ Akbar, over accusations of sexual harassment.
MeToo India: "Accusation without evidence has become a viral fever," says MJ Akbar
"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," MJ Akbar said, according to news agency ANI.
UNION MINISTER MJ AKBAR TO NOT RESIGN
MJ Akbar won't resign over sex harassment allegations linked to the MeToo movement, say government sources.
MJ Akbar's Response
In response to the allegations, Union minister MJ Akbar has said that "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."
MJ Akbar is seen at his residence. Earlier in the day, Mr Akbar had said that a statement would be issued later on.
Visuals of media outside Union Minister MJ Akbar's residence in New Delhi. MJ Akbar returned from Nigeria this morning amid calls for his resignation after nearly a dozen women journalists.
After MJ Akbar's return in India early this morning, he has said that he would issue a statement on the allegations.
Several union ministers have expressed solidarity with victims of sexual harassment, without specifically mentioning MJ Akbar.
Mr Akbar, the minister of state for external affairs, was in Nigeria when his name came up in a #MeToo thread on social media earlier this week. Most of the women who have accused him of sexual harassment are journalists who had worked with Mr Akbar during his days as an editor.
Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi has asked for an investigation against MJ Akbar. Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale said, "MJ Akbar should resign if the charges are proven".
There have been conflicting reports since on whether he has sent in his resignation. Sources say given the allegations against him, his job is no longer guaranteed and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take a call on the matter.
The BJP has not commented on the charges, though individual ministers have supported the movement.
The women who have spoken out against MJ Akbar, as part of the #MeToo movement include Prerna Singh Bindra, Ghazala Wahab, Shutapa Paul, Anju Bharti, Suparna Sharma, Shuma Raha, Malini Bhupta, Kanika Gahlout, Kadambari M Wade, Majlie de Puy Kamp.
The accusations against MJ Akbar started flowing in after journalist Priya Ramani tweeted on October 8 that Mr Akbar was the man who had harassed her in an incident she shared in an article for Vogue India a year ago, when the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the US triggered the #MeToo movement.