20 scribes rally behind Priya Ramani, want to testify against MJ Akbar

Governance       Union Minister MJ Akbar resigns over sexual harassment charges
       	        The Print Team         17 October 2018

"Since I have made a decision to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levelled against me, also in a personal capacity". He said that Ramani "began this campaign a year ago with a magazine article" but had not named him earlier "as she knew it was an incorrect story". The Vishakha Guidelines issued by the Honourable Supreme Court in 1997 and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 ("POSH Act") have clearly laid down the steps to be taken to protect women at their workplaces.

The Minister of State for External Affairs has accused Ramani of "wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously" defaming him and has sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation. Yet a number of accused men have denied allegations in public statements or hit back at women for speaking out. "I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court #metoo", Ramani tweeted.

India's #MeToo movement is different from America's in other ways.

Modi has remained silent as the accusations against Akbar have mounted, but the ruling Bharatiya Janata party's president, Amit Shah, and several female ministers have acknowledged the allegations and said they are being examined.

Responding to the allegations after returning to India from an official visit overseas, Akbar called the allegations "false and fabricated" and questioned their timing, hinting at a political campaign against him. His resignation has come two days after he filed a defamation case against one of the accused, Priya Ramani.

"The only office where I worked with her was that of The Asian Age".

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Journalist Tushita Patel, writing in the news portal Scroll.in, has recounted her experience of working with Mr. Akbar in 1992 as a trainee with The Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata and later working as a senior sub-editor in the Deccan Chronicle in 1993 in Hyderabad. "I would prefer believing the latter, so here is something to refresh his memory", Wahab wrote.

Modi's Hindu nationalist government has said very little about the accusations against one of its members or about the upsurge in #MeToo allegations.

The opposition Congress had also been relatively muted in its criticism of the government over the allegations against Akbar.

"By ignoring this defining moment, and watching silently while a government minister sues a woman who has spoken out, your government is giving a regressive message: that the fundamental right to life, safety and dignity of a sizeable section of the workforce does not matter", it said.

Over the past week, lists of lawyers willing to work on sexual harassment cases pro bono have circulated on social media, and new allegations against men on social media have emerged.



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