Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns amidst serious allegations of sexual harassment

Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns amidst serious allegations of sexual harassment

He returned to public life in March 2014, when he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and was appointed national spokesman during the 2014 election that brought the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power.

Many women in India see this as the first significant victory of the MeToo movement ever since it picked up pace after Tanushree Dutta levelled allegations of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar on the sets of Horn "OK" Pleassss. Abkar issued a statement over his resignation that he is seeking justice in the court for which he is stepping down as the Union Minister.

India's Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed Akbar walks inside his residence in New Delhi, India, October 14, 2018.

He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity to serve the country.

Union Minister MJ Akbar resigned on October 17 over allegations of sexual harassment by a number of women journalists.

Earlier this week, Akbar had filed a criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for naming him as an alleged sexual predator.

The women have accused M.J. Akbar, a junior foreign minister, of inappropriate behaviour before entering politics.

On Tuesday, 20 women signed a statement asking the court hearing Akbar's case against Ramani to allow them to give their own testimonies against him. India's opposition Congress Party had earlier called for Akbar's resignation.

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Akbar, who denied the sexual harassment allegations, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, according to a statement. "More strength to India's women", she said. "I have, therefore, tendered my resignation.", Akbar said. "We salute the women, the courageous women, who stood their ground despite the brazen stance of the misogynist Modi government".

She proceeded to recount that the refurbished office of the Asian Age newspaper, of which Akbar was then Editor, in Surya Kiran building was "big" and Akbar's room "soundproof".

"When we looked at women managers, one of the things that was obvious was that whenever they faced harassment, they went back home or their home pulled them back", said Ranjana Kumari, the director of the Centre for Social Research, a Delhi-based think tank.

The phenomenon remains confined to India's urban elite at present, with vast numbers of women elsewhere in the country lacking either access to justice or a platform to name their tormentors.

Akbar was overseas when the allegations broke and upon his return vowed to fight it out.

He was first named last week by journalist Priya Ramani, who retweeted an article she had written for Vogue India a year ago titled "To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world", where she recounted what she called her first experience of workplace harassment.

Tushita Patel, in a blog post, accused MJ Akbar of sexually harassing her, meeting her in a hotel room in his underwear and forcibly kissing her on two different occasions.

Mr Akbar is a Rajya Sabha member belonging to the BJP.

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