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Minister MJ Akbar named in #MeToo, Sushma Swaraj ducks questions

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    New Delhi, Oct 9: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday dodged questions seaxual harassment allegations against her ministry colleague MK Akbar.

    MJ Akbar

    "There are serious allegations...these are sexual harassment allegations. You are a woman minister in charge. Will there be a probe on the allegations," Tribune reporter Smita Sharma questioned Ms Swaraj. However, Swaraj remained silent to journalists' questions as to whether any action would be taken against her junior minister on the basis of the allegations.

    Also Read | How the #MeToo bug has hit the high and mighty

    Priya Ramani had alleged that Akbar during his tenure as an Editor of a newspaper made her feel uncomfortable and harassed her in a hotel room.

    Alleging M.J. Akbar, journalist Priya Ramani wrote in her article "Akbar is an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer." She further added, "You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab, and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay."

    In her piece titled "To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world" published in Vogue India in October last year, Ramani had alleged that "Akbar is an expert on obscene phone calls, texts, inappropriate compliments and not taking no for an answer."

    "You know how to pinch, pat, rub, grab and assault. Speaking up against you still carries a heavy price that many young women cannot afford to pay," the article reads.

    Also Read | MeToo movement in India is a wrong practice: BJP MP Udit Raj

    While the article at the time of publishing did not mention the name of harasser in question, the woman who penned the piece confirmed her allegation and named MJ Akbar.

    Soon after Ramani's tweet, other journalists also accused Akbar of calling women to his hotel rooms for interviews, or making women feel uncomfortable by seeking to be alone with them.

    MJ Akbar has been the editor of several leading newspapers like 'The Telegraph', 'Asian Age' and 'The Sunday Guardian'.

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