The #MeToo movement that has caused a storm in the film industry and singed newsrooms reached the Modi government with former editor and union minister MJ Akbar being named for sexual harassment by two journalists
in the social media. A day after journalist Priya Ramani levelled allegations against Akbar, who is a junior External Affairs Minister, another of his former colleagues Prerna Singh Bindra came up with charges of sexual harassment.
The Telegraph, of which Akbar was the founding editor, had carried a story on Tuesday based on tweets by Ramani and another account by an unnamed writer in Firstpost, a news portal. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday did not answer media queries about allegations concerning Akbar. As reporters persisted with their questions and asked if there will be a probe, she walked past them without giving an answer. Ramani had on Monday tweeted about a piece she had written for The Vogue magazine in 2017.
“I began this piece with my MJ Akbar story. Never named him because he didn’t “do” anything,” she had said and even called Akbar “a predator.” On Tuesday she tweeted “a small story from someone who worked” with him. “MJ Akbar never missed an opportunity,” Ramani said. The story by an unnamed woman journalist did not name Akbar but referred to him as a boss of a new newspaper published simultaneously from Bombay, Delhi and London (The Asian Age).
The journalist said she was made to wait in a hotel lobby for hours and when he came from his meetings at 9.30 pm, she was asked if she wanted to stay over. It also says that when she refused, he “graciously told me to take the office car and get dropped off home in distant suburbs.” “But yes, I was definitely never a favourite post that incident,” it added. Bindra had on Sunday made allegations against Akbar but did not name him. “He was this brilliant,flamboyant editor who dabbled in politics, who called me-my 1st job-to his hotel room to ‘discuss work’, after i put the edition to bedread midnight, and made life at work hell when I refused, couldn’t speak up due to various compulsions,but yes #MeTooIndia,” she had said. However, on Tuesday she named him and made a series of tweets. “It was MJ Akbar I do not say this lightly.. I know the consequences of false accusations and it has been now 17 yrs and I have no concrete proof. But I was young, just made features editor, super impressed with our brilliant editor, sensitive writer (read Riot after Riot),”But the great have feet of clay.