MJ Akbar on Wednesday resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour against him. In a brief statement, Akbar said he had decided to seek justice in a court of law in his personal capacity.
Akbar's resignation, which came just a day before the hearing of the criminal defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, evoked a flurry of reactions. The private criminal defamation case will come up for hearing on Thursday before additional chief metropolitan magistrate Samar Vishal.
Akbar had filed the complaint against Ramani alleging she "wilfully" and "maliciously" made imputations against him with the ulterior motive of maligning his reputation and political standing. After he tendered his resignation, Ramani tweeted that "as women we feel vindicated" and she is looking forward to the day when she gets justice in court.
As women we feel vindicated by MJ Akbar’s resignation.
I look forward to the day when I will also get justice in court #metoo
— Priya Ramani (@priyaramani) October 17, 2018
Senior journalist Ghazala Wahab, one of the several women who have accused Akbar of sexual misconduct, said she is happy with the development, but it should have happened three days back. She also said that Akbar should now withdraw his defamation case.
#BREAKING | This should have happened 3 days back, I am happy right now: @ghazalawahab tells @AnchorAnandN | #MeTooIndia | #MeTooVsAkbar pic.twitter.com/PKugttrVfU — News18 (@CNNnews18) October 17, 2018
National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Rekha Sharma called it the "right decision".
— News18 (@CNNnews18) October 17, 2018
Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chief Swati Maliwal said the credit for Akbar's resignation goes neither to the Centre nor Akbar, but directly to the #MeToo movement.
Finally MJ Akbar has resigned. Shame on him for having delayed it for so long. The credit for the resignation goes not to the Centre or MJ Akbar but directly to the #MeToo campaign. Esp to those brave women who reported the assault & those women and men who stood by them. — Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) October 17, 2018
Journalist Barkha Dutt tweeted that it took two weeks and the bravery of nearly 20 women for Akbar to quit. "More power to women's rage, our right to work without harassment, our right to equality and our right to be."
Finally !!! It took two weeks and the bravery of nearly 20 women for #MJAkbar to quit. More power to women's rage, our right to work without harassment, our right to equality and our right to be. @priyaramani thank you & we remain with you in your legal battle. #MeToo https://t.co/F9D7oIeiIL
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 17, 2018
Commentator and cricket analyst Harsha Bhogle tweeted that "tide of previous wrongs was too powerful to swim against".
MJ Akbar had to resign. The tide of previous wrongs was too powerful to swim against. — Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) October 17, 2018
UK-based journalist with Bloomberg Ruth David, who had also accused Akbar of "sexually harassing her as a teenage trainee in his newsroom", tweeted:
India's junior foreign minister MJ Akbar resigns after over a dozen women accused him of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. I was one of those women and I stand by my story and with those who spoke up. We raise our voices now so others will not experience what we did.
— Ruth David (@RuthsDavid) October 17, 2018
Journalist Sucheta Dalal also tweeted:
So this govt took all this time to understand that the #MeToo movement is not about or against it and allowing #MJAkbar to stay would be a monumental PR disaster in run up to 2019! 🙄 By refusing to act, it made the issue about itself!! Still, timely course correction! https://t.co/w4QxkpdSY4 — Sucheta Dalal (@suchetadalal) October 17, 2018
Meena Baghel, one of the 20 women journalists who are willing to testify against Akbar, tweeted:
A very big thanks to everyone who backed each of us. #MJAkbar
— Meenal Baghel (@writemeenal) October 17, 2018
Union minister Ramdas Athawale called it a "right decision" taken by Akbar and said that the allegations against him should be properly investigated.
Opposition was asking him to resign on moral grounds. This is a right decision taken by him. The allegations on him should be properly investigated: Union Minister Ramdas Athawale on #MJAkbar resignation pic.twitter.com/Rd3k0wDBrV — ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2018
AAP leader Alka Lamba also tweeted:
शानदार :)... झुकती है दुनियाँ झुकाने वाला चाहिये 👍... आखिरकार प्रधानमंत्री मोदी जी को झुकना ही पड़ा .. देर आये दरुस्त आये 👍. आवाज़ बुलन्द करने वाली महिलाओं बहादुर महिलाओं को इस्तीफ़ा मुबारक़ :).#MeToo #MeTooIndia #MJAkbar https://t.co/Nn4whElIjp — Alka Lamba (@LambaAlka) October 17, 2018
Another senior AAP leader Atishi Marlena said the "courageous women journalists deserve all the credit for forcing Akbar out of his ministerial position".
Courageous women journalists deserve all the credit for forcing @mjakbar out of his ministerial position. Sexual harassment by the mighty and powerful should never go unchallenged #MeToo — Atishi (@AtishiAAP) October 17, 2018
Former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao also expressed happiness at the development and said his "continuation was untenable and indefensible".
So glad that Minister MJ Akbar has resigned his post. His continuation was untenable and indefensible. A big shoutout to all the brave women journalists who called him out for his alleged, sickening and exploitative behaviour towards them. #Metoo #LetTheWomenBeHeard
— Nirupama Menon Rao (@NMenonRao) October 17, 2018
Updated Date: Oct 17, 2018 18:27 PM