MJ Akbar removes Minister of State for External Affairs from Twitter bio after furore in media

Former junior external affairs minister MJ Akbar finally removed his ministerial designation from his Twitter profile after various media reports came out on Wednesday morning showing that the senior journalist was still flaunting his position on the social media platform, a week after he relinquished his charge following a barrage of accusations of sexual harassment from former colleagues in the media.

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Although the former minister did not react to media reports, he however quietly dropped the designation that he officially owned until a week ago.

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Akbar stepped down from his post on 17 October. "Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law, in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity," Akbar said in a statement that was also uploaded on his Twitter.

"I have, therefore, tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of State for External Affairs. I am deeply grateful to the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, and to the External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj for the opportunity they gave me to serve my country."

Several women have accused the former union minister of sexual misconduct. Journalist Priya Ramani was the first to call Akbar out for sexual harassment. She replugged her October 2017 article in Vogue on Twitter on 8 October.  She had not named Akbar in her article, but revealed his identity in a tweet as the #MeToo movement gained ground in India. It was after her post that several women spoke up with their own stories of Akbar and his allegedly relentless sexual advances towards them.

Akbar called the accounts of his former colleagues "false, wild and baseless" and also sued Ramani for criminal defamation after vowing to take legal action for "harming his reputation". The Delhi court has fixed the matter for 31 October for submission of evidence.

So far, over 20 women who helped Akbar launch The Asian Age and at least 14 others accused Akbar of sexual harassment when they worked with him during his years as a journalist. The women recounted their ordeals with Akbar right from the 1980s till as recently as in 2010-2011. Their accounts include details of his "predatory tactics" and incidents ranging from sexual harassment, sexism and abuse of power in his capacity as an editor.

 


Updated Date: Oct 24, 2018 14:54 PM

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