MJ Akbar returns to India LATEST updates: Junior foreign minister MJ Akbar has denied all allegations of sexual harassment against him. In a detailed statement released hours after his return to India, Akbar named some of the women who accused him of sexual misconduct, claiming that he did not do anything to them. He also said he will take legal action against the women for making "false and fabricated" allegations against him.
However, there is still no clarity on whether Akbar will resign or will be asked to step down from the post of Minister of State for External Affairs. Earlier, reports had claimed that he had resigned over an email, but there was no mention of his resignation in the statement.
Earlier on Sunday, Congress leader Anand Sharma questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence on the matter, calling it "conspicuous". Later in the day, Union minister Ramdas Athawale said Akbar should resign if found guilty.
In the last few days, at least 14 women have offered their accounts of alleged sexual harassment by Akbar as the #MeToo movement swept across India, bringing to fore sordid tales of sexual harassment by influential men in different walks of lives.
While the BJP has kept mum, some woman ministers have lent their support to the #MeToo movement without taking a stand on the charges against Akbar. Party leaders have said it is for Akbar to respond to the charges first.
On reports of his resignation, journalist and author Priya Ramani said Akbar's resignation was a "big win for the #MeToo movement" in India. It was in response to her tweet accusing the junior minister of sexual harassment that several women opened about with their "MJ stories".
The latest to accuse Akbar of sexual harassment was Ruth David, a journalist at Bloomberg London. She published an article on Medium, accusing Akbar of sexually harassing her during her time at The Asian Age.
Veteran journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted about MJ Akbar's resignation, saying that he should face criminal charges and legal prosecution as well.
Journalist Ghazala Wahab, one of the 14 women who accused MJ Akbar of sexual misconduct, said that if the MEA has no qualms letting a sexual predator represent India abroad, then perhaps the world must refuse to receive him, in solidarity with the #MeToo movement not just here but worldwide.
Rajya Sabha MP and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has sought an investigation into the charges against Akbar. India Today quoted him as saying, "I asked for an investigation based on what the media told me about the incident." "Naturally, this issue will be raised in Parliament," he added.
Akbar returned from an official trip to African nations on Sunday morning. He was greeted by a throng of reporters at New Delhi's international airport, who threw a barrage of questions at him that he chose to ignore.
While the BJP has maintained a studied silence on the matter so far, party sources have said the charges against him are serious, and his continuance as a minister is no longer guaranteed. A final call will be taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they said. There is also a view within the party that there is no legal case against him, and allegations pertain to a time long before he became a minister.
Updated Date: Oct 14, 2018 20:12 PM