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#MeToo in India: Former Asian Age editor Pallavi Gogoi accuses MJ Akbar of rape and mental abuse

Yet another woman has spoken out against MJ Akbar, accusing him of rape, and mental and physical abuse. Currently the chief business editor of US-based National Public Radio (NPR), Pallavi Gogoi has accused Akbar of raping her when she was working with The Asian Age as a 23-year-old.

In her account in The Washington Post, Gogoi details her ordeal. The newspaper got in touch with Akbar's lawyer Sandeep Kapur. The report said, "We reached out to Sandeep Kapur, MJ Akbar’s lawyer, for comment on the accounts laid out in this piece. The response: “My client states that these [incidents and allegations] are false and expressly denied.”"

Her story starts in the same vein as most other women journalists like Ghazala Wahab and Priya Ramani who spoke up about their ordeals of sexual harassment from Akbar; Gogoi describes how the majorly female staff at The Asian Age at the time was in awe of Akbar.

Gogoi became the editor of the op-ed page at the newspaper at 23.

She writes about instances starting in 1994 when Akbar tried to kiss her in his office. She says that Akbar had "suddenly lunged" in an attempt to kiss her, when she was in his office for a review of her work. She also mentions the detail that has been uniform in the stories so far — that "his (office) door was often closed". According to the report, Gogoi managed to escape another such advance in Mumbai a few months later.

File image of MJ Akbar. Getty images

File image of MJ Akbar. Getty images

Gogoi writes that the situation worsened after Akbar raped her in his hotel room in Jaipur, when she had gone to the city to cover a story.

After the incident, she says that she "stopped fighting his advances". "He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally," she said.

Gogoi says she confided about her ordeal in journalist Tushita Patel, who also spoke about facing sexual harassment from Akbar. Gogoi left The Asian Age soon after to work as a reporting assistant in New York.

Firstpost reached out to Akbar's lawyers for a statement on Gogoi's allegation, but the firm said that it could not comment on the account at this time.

Akbar, who resigned as the Union Minister of State for External Affairs two weeks ago, is currently fighting a case of criminal defamation filed against Ramani.

Firstpost has reached out to Sandeep Kapur and Pallavi Gogoi for comment and this article will be updated when they respond. 


Updated Date: Nov 02, 2018 14:14 PM

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