New Delhi: Former minister MJ Akbar has denied the rape charges levelled against him by a US-based journalist on Friday. Terming the allegations false, Akbar claimed that they (he and the journalist) were into a consensual relationship  somewhere around 1994 that spanned several months. “This relationship gave rise to talk and would later cause strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on best note,” the former minister defended himself. Also Read - Bengal Rape Survivors Move Supreme Court Revealing Horrors of Post-poll Violence

“On Oct 29, the Washington Post forwarded to my lawyers a series of cryptic and non-specific questions, regarding incidents alleged to have taken place approximately 23 years ago. These allegations were false and were consequently denied,” MJ Akbar said in a statement to news agency ANI. Also Read - Pearl V Puri Denied Bail in Minor Rape Case, to Stay in Judicial Custody Till June 15

He further said, “On 2 Nov, 2018, the Washington Post ran a piece written by Ms. Pallavi Gogoi, detailing false allegations of rape and violence against me. I have had occasion to read this article and it has become necessary, at this point in time, to bring certain facts to light.” (Also Read: MJ Akbar’s Wife Mallika Denies Rape Allegations Against Former Minister Levelled by US-based Journalist, Accuses Her of Creating Discord in Her Family) Also Read - Haryana Horror: 10-year-old Girl Raped by 9 People in School, FIR Filed After Video Goes Viral

“People who worked with me and knew both of us have indicated that they would be happy to bear testimony to what is stated above and at no stage, did the behaviour of Pallavi Gogoi, give any one of them impression that she was working under duress,” the former minister added.

Akbar’s Wife Hits Back at Gogoi

Meanwhile, Akbar’s wife Mallika Akbar also lashed out at Gogoi for accusing her husband of rape and said that her allegations are nothing more than lies. “I don’t know Pallavi’s reasons for telling this lie, but a lie it is. I have been silent all this while as a ‘me too’ campaign has been unleashed against my husband, MJ Akbar. However, the Washington Post article by Pallavi Gogoi alleging that she was raped by him forces me to step in with what I know to be true,” said Akbar’s wife.

“Over 20 yrs ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in our home.I learned of her and my husband’s involvement through her calls and her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish and hurt to my entire family. Tushita Patel and Pallavi Gogoi were often at our home, happily drinking and dining with us. Neither carried the haunted look of victims of sexual assault.  At an Asian Age party at our home, crowded with young journalists, I have watched with mortification and pain as they danced close. I had confronted my husband at the time and he decided to prioritise his family,” she added.

What the journalist had claimed? 

Pallavi Gogoi, Chief Business Editor at National Public Radio had accused the former minister of raping her in 1994 while she was working at The Asian Age. In an article for ‘The Washington Post’, the journalist had claimed that prior to the incident, Akbar had attempted to kiss her and on another occasion scratched her face when she fought him off. She said that at that point in time, Akbar would abuse her sexually, verbally as well as emotionally.

In her earlier note, she had spoken of the time when she was taken advantage of and how Akbar physically overpowered her. The incident took place while she was on an assignment in Jaipur. She narrated her ordeal by saying, “In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me.” She said that “instead of reporting him to the police” she was filled with shame. “I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?”

The journalist went on to add that from that day on, Akbar coerced her and continued abusing her sexually, verbally and emotionally. She recalled the fear she was subjected to by the former politician and how he would burst into fits of rage if he saw her talking to male colleagues who were of her age. “It was frightening,” she added.