New Delhi: Women journalists, who accused M J Akbar of sexual misconduct during his days as editor of several publications, expressed their happiness over the latter stepping down as the Minister of State for External Affairs on Wednesday.
Journalist Priya Ramani, who was the first to go public with her accusation against the former editor and is facing a defamation suit filed by Akbar, said she was “vindicated”.
“As women, we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation. I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court,” Ramani tweeted.
Akbar’s resignation came after as many as 20 women, including 19 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, issued a joint statement on Tuesday extending support to their colleague Priya Ramani who has accused Union minister M J Akbar of sexual harassment.
Journalist Suparna Sharma who had accused Akbar of having “plucked my bra strap”, said the fight was not over with his resignation.
“Akbar should have resigned immediately after returning to India instead of issuing a statement,” said Sharma referring to Akbar’s Sunday statement where he had rubbished all the allegations and questioned the motive behind them.
“When he issued the statement, it seemed it was government versus Priya Ramani. Now that he has resigned, it is Akbar vs Priya Ramani,” she said insisting the former minister should withdraw the defamation case against Ramani.
“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,” she said asserting the fight against sexual harassment will continue.
“On #MahaAshtami Devi Durga slays the demon… #MJAkbar gone….” tweeted journalist Saba Naqvi who had called Akbar a “predator”.
Journalist Harinder Baweja, who too had accused Akbar, wondered if Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would now “break their silence”.
“Akbar should have done it (resigned) much earlier. Staying on also reeked of a sense of entitlement.
“As a next step, he should withdraw the defamation suit unless M.J. Akbar wants to continue defaming himself,” Baweja said on twitter.
On his return from an overseas trip on Sunday, Akbar responded to the demands for his resignation by terming the accusations against him “false, fabricated and deeply distressing”. Alleging political vendetta, he had also questioned the timing of the allegations saying why the storm had come months before the general elections.
On Monday, Akbar filed a private criminal defamation case against Ramani, accusing her of “wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously” defaming him and sought her prosecution under the penal provision on defamation.
Ramani asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed against her, and expressed disappointment over the minister’s statement, saying it paid no heed to the “trauma and fear of the survivors”.
“I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” she had said.