#MeToo Impact: MJ Akbar Resigns As Minister of State External Affairs

Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation

Indian minister quits to fight sexual harassment accusations

A day after finally breaking his silence on the allegations, MJ Akbar on Monday, 15 October, filed a complaint against Priya Ramani, the first woman to publicly call him out, for criminal defamation under Section 500 of the IPC.

Akbar, however, denied the allegations and even filed a defamation suit against Priya Ramani - the first woman who accused Akbar of sexual harassment.

The 20 women include, Meenal Baghel (Chief Editor Mumbai Mirror), Manisha Pande, Tushita Patel, Kanika Gahlaut, Suparna Sharma, (Resident Editor, The Asian Age, New Delhi), Ramola Talwar Badam, Kaniza Garari, Malavika Banerjee, AT Jayanthi (Editor, Deccan Chronicle), Hamida Parkar, Jonali Buragohain, Sanjari Chatterjee, Meenakshi Kumar, Sujata Dutta Sachdeva, Hoihnu Hauzel, Aisha Khan, Kushalrani Gulab, Kiran Manral, Christina Francis and Reshmi Chakraborty.

Political analysts said Akbar's continuation would have hurt the government as it gears up for general elections next year, laying it open to charges of being insensitive to women.

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Through his counsel, MJ Akbar said that Priya Ramani's defamatory statements had damaged his image, lowering his esteem in the eyes of the public. "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". "I have, therefore, tendered my resignation...", Akbar said.

"It is created to push women back into silent compliance and will silence the voices of the many who have not yet spoken up", it said.

In a brief statement announcing his resignation, Akbar said he deemed it appropriate to fight the charges against him legally in a personal capacity, only two days after defying calls for his resignation when he returned from overseas on Sunday. She named Mr Akbar only in a tweet early this month.

"Be it action against BJP MLA Senger in Unnao, be it the Kathua rape case or be it the bone chilling exploitation of girls and women in Muzaffarpur, Deoria and Bhopalor be it the Naliya sex racket in Gujarat or be it the unprecedented attack by sexual predators on women and girls across India", he is silent, Ms Nayak alleged.

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Akbar was overseas when the allegations broke and upon his return vowed to fight it out. It is utterly freakish 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.

In India's deeply conservative society, the #MeToo movement began belatedly but has picked up steam in recent weeks.

While the Congress demanded his resignation and removal, Bharatiya Janata Party leaders kept a studied silence. "Too many women had come forward, there was a floodgate of allegations". "Tweets are defamatory unless Ramani proves anything", Luthra said. On Tuesday, Akbar filed a criminal defamation complaint against Ramani, and resigned as Union Minister on Wednesday.

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