MJ Akbar refutes rape charge, says relationship was consensual
US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi accuses MJ Akbar of using his position to prey on her; wife dismisses allegation
Former Union Minister M J Akbar on Friday denied accusations of rape by US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi, claiming he had a consensual relationship spanning several months with her but it ended "perhaps not on the best note". In a separate statement, his wife Mallika Akbar also dismissed Gogoi's accusations, made in a Washington Post article on Friday, as a "lie".
"Somewhere around 1994, Pallavi Gogoi and I entered into a consensual relationship that spanned several months," Akbar, who recently resigned as junior foreign minister following a spate of #MeToo allegations, said in a statement. "This relationship (with Gogoi) gave rise to a lot of talk and later caused significant strife in my family life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on the best note," he said. In her statement, Mallika admitted she knew about the relationship between Akbar and Gogoi and the relationship caused unhappiness and discord in her family.
She said she remained "silent" even though the #MeToo campaign was "unleashed" against Akbar. But Gogoi's article alleging that she was raped by him "forced" her "to step in" , she said. "I don't know Pallavi's reasons for telling this lie but a lie it is," she added.
Pallavi Gogoi's account
Sharing her ordeal through an article in Washington Post, Pallavi Gogoi says, "It must have been late spring or summer of 1994, and I had gone into his office - his door was often closed. I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed."
Talking about the incident of sexual assault that happened a few months later, she said, "When I was summoned to Bombay to help launch a magazine. He called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel, again to see the layouts. When he again came close to me to kiss me, I fought him and pushed him away. He scratched my face as I ran away, tears streaming down." Soon after this one, a story took her to a remote village, miles away from Delhi. She says, "The assignment was to end in Jaipur. When I checked back, Akbar said I could come discuss the story in his hotel in Jaipur. In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me."
Editors Guild tracking allegations
The Editors Guild of India said it is tracking with "great concern" fresh allegations of sexual misconduct against M J Akbar and a decision on his membership of the top editors' body will be taken after "due process" is completed.
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