A day after Union Minister M.J. Akbar said that charges of sexual harassment against him were “wild and baseless”, Ghazala Wahab, one of the journalists who had levelled the allegations, said “lies do not have legs” and they cannot go far.
Writing for the news website ‘The Wire’, Wahab said Akbar’s statement describing the charges against him as based on “innuendo, speculation” was “full of tired clichés” and he was either lying or his memory was failing him when he spoke of a “very tiny cubicle” – the place inside the newspaper office where the harassment was said to have taken place two decades back.
“In attempting to refute my story of molestation and harassment, Akbar has tried to hide inside his supposedly ‘very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass’.
“Either he is lying, or age has caught up with him. I would prefer believing the latter, so here is something to refresh his memory,” Wahab wrote.
She proceeded to recount that the refurbished office of the Asian Age newspaper, of which Akbar was then Editor, in Surya Kiran building was “big” and Akbar’s room “soundproof”.
“It was big. His polished wood desk was huge (lined with a row of Ganeshas) and had a small work station attached to it. At his back was polished wood (all gloss) wall-to-wall hutch cabinet with storage at the bottom and book shelves at eye level.
“On the other end of the room, directly opposite to his desk, was the tripod with the huge dictionary, with thickness of nearly a foot,” she wrote.
Akbar in his statement on Sunday had said that he had a “a very tiny cubicle, patched together by plywood and glass” at the Asian Age office where Wahab and he worked.
“It is utterly bizarre to believe that anything could have happened in that tiny space, and, moreover, that no one else in the vicinity would come to know, in the midst of a working day. These allegations are false, motivated and baseless,” he said in his statement.
Wahab in her account also posted the screenshots of her conversations with ex-Asian Age colleague from the same period, who, according to her, were in the know of Akbar’s reputation or at least what he did to her.
Akbar, a Minister of State for External Affairs, earlier on Monday filed a criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani, who was one of those to accuse him of sexual harassment amid the raging #MeToo movement in the country.