New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday accepted the resignation of journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar. Akbar had resigned earlier in the evening as the Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him by as many as 20 women journalists. While he has continued to deny the allegations and has even filed a defamation case against Priya Ramani, the journalist to have called him out first, Akbar said, “I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity. I have, therefore, tendered my resignation.” Also Read - Madurai Salon Owner Spends Savings on Needy Amid COVID-19, 13-Year-Old Daughter Appointed UNADAP Goodwill Ambassador
Akbar’s resignation was accepted by PM Narendra Modi who then sent it to the President for his approval. His defamation case comes up for hearing on Thursday. Also Read - My Life, My Yoga: PM Modi Launches Video Blogging Contest for Citizens, Winner to Get Rs 1 Lakh Prize Money
Meanwhile, women journalists couldn’t be more elated. While Ramani feels vindicated, Suparna Sharma, who had accused Akbar of having plucked her bra strap, said, “We don’t know who is backing and supporting him, but I am happy and glad that he has stepped down. The longer he fights this battle against Ramani, more women will come out.” Also Read - Lockdown 5.0? Netizens Gear Up to Face the Extension With Hilarious Memes & Jokes
Nineteen of these 20 women had, on Tuesday, filed a petition in court, asking it to consider their testimony about the “culture of casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation that he engendered and presided over” at the newspaper.
They pointed out how 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 a 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.”
The petition went on to add that the women would want to be heard in the court. It said, “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.”