The statement said that MJ Akbar “demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions”.

MeToo 20 journos speak out against MJ Akbar ask court to consider their testimonies
news MeToo Wednesday, October 17, 2018 - 09:15

Sixteen women have already accused Minister of State of External Affairs MJ Akbar of sexual harassment and misconduct, but the minister has blatantly denied allegations. The minister has also filed a case of criminal defamation against journalist Priya Ramani, the first one to accuse him of harassment. He has a battery of 97 lawyers to fight the case.

"The defamation case will be heard by a magisterial court in the Patiala House court complex on October 18," Akbar's Counsel Sandeep Kapur said on Tuesday. With the case coming up in court on Wednesday, 20 women who worked with MJ Akbar during his career as a journalist have asked the court to consider their testimonies of being subject to MJ Akbar’s sexual harassment and misconduct, or were witness to the same.

Of the 20 signatories, only three — Suparna Sharma, Kanika Gahlaut and Tushita Patel — were part of the sixteen women who had put forward allegations against MJ Akbar. While 19 signatories worked at daily newspaper Asian Age, the 20th signatory, Christina Francis, worked at Deccan Chronicle. MJ Akbar was the founding editor of Asian Age.

Affirming their support for Priya Ramani, the statement said that MJ Akbar “demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions”.

Read the full statement:

“Minister MJ Akbar has filed a criminal defamation case against our former colleague Priya Ramani for calling out his predatory behaviour towards the young women he employed at The Asian Age when he was its editor and proprietor.

This, despite the powerful testimonies of several other women who have stepped forward to speak out against his sexual misconduct.

What Mr Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many many women over the years. He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament.

When Ms Ramani spoke out against him in public, she spoke not only about her personal experience but also lifted the lid on the culture of casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation that Mr. Akbar engendered and presided over at The Asian Age.

Ms. Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment.

  1. Meenal Baghel (Asian Age 1993-1996)
  2. Manisha Pande (Asian Age 1993-1998)
  3. Tushita Patel (Asian Age 1993-2000)
  4. Kanika Gahlaut (Asian Age 1995-1998)
  5. Suparna Sharma (Asian Age 1993-1996)
  6. Ramola Talwar Badam (Asian Age 1994-1995)
  7. Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997)
  8. Malavika Banerjee (Asian Age 1995-1998)
  9. A.T. Jayanthi (Asian Age 1995-1996)
  10. Hamida Parkar (Asian Age 1996-1999)
  11. Jonali Buragohain (Asian Age)
  12. Sanjari Chatterjee (Asian Age)
  13. Meenakshi Kumar (Asian Age 1996-2000)
  14. Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (Asian Age 1999-2000)
  15. Hoihnu Hauzel (Asian Age 1999-2000)
  16. Reshmi Chakraborty (Asian Age Mumbai staff 1996-1998)
  17. Kushalrani Gulab (Asian age 1993-1997)
  18. Aisha Khan (Asian Age 1995-1998)
  19. Kiran Manral (Asian Age 1993-1996)
  20. Christina Francis (Deccan Chronicle 2004-2011)
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