"Truth My Only Defence": Journalist Sued By MJ Akbar Over #MeToo Charge

Priya Ramani also said MJ Akbar was seeking to "silence" the survivors through "intimidation and harassment".

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'Truth My Only Defence': Journalist Sued By MJ Akbar Over #MeToo Charge

Priya Ramani was the first among a dozen women who have accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment.


New Delhi: 

Priya Ramani, the journalist who was sued by Union Minister MJ Akbar for defamation after she accused him of sexual harassment in India's #MeToo movement, said she was ready to fight the case as "truth and the absolute truth is my only defence".

She was named yesterday as the sole accused in MJ Akbar's lawsuit and is accused of "intentionally" putting forward "malicious, fabricated and salacious" allegations to harm the minister's goodwill and reputation.

Priya Ramani said MJ Akbar, her former boss, was seeking to "silence" the survivors through "intimidation and harassment".

Ms Ramani was the first among a dozen women who have named the Minister of State of External Affairs and accused him of sexual harassment in the tide of #MeToo allegations in India. In a tweet on October 8, she named him as the man in an incident she had shared in a magazine article last year. 

"I am deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy," Ms Ramani said in a statement. "By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment," Ms Ramani said in a statement that she tweeted.

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Union Minister MJ Akbar called the #MeToo allegations against him "wild and baseless".

She said those who had spoken up against the editor-turned-minister had done so at great risk to their personal and professional lives. "At this moment, it is disingenuous to ask why they have spoken now, as we are well aware of the stigma and shame that sexual crimes inflict upon victims. Rather than cast aspersions on the intent and motives of these women, we must reflect on how to improve the workplace for future generations of men and women," Priya Ramani said.

 

MJ Akbar, 67, returned to India from a foreign trip on Sunday amid calls for his resignation. He called the allegations against him "wild and baseless". Sources had told NDTV that the government has "nothing to do with the accusations" against him and his stepping down may "set a bad precedent".

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