Sushma Swaraj mum on MJ Akbar allegations; media groups clean house
Newspapers and publications start acting on allegations that surfaced on Twitter, while clamour for probe against central minister grows
The #MeToo movement has thrown down the gauntlet to the very top of the media industry as well as the central government, as several new allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against M J Akbar, a renowned former editor and now Minister of State for External Affairs. At least six women journalists and writers have spoken out against Akbar, alleging that he would call them to his hotel room at night for interviews, or sometimes turn up at their homes uninvited. Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs, has dodged all requests for comments on whether any inquiry or action will be initiated against the central minister.
Hotel room predator
Among other publications, Akbar was the founding editor of the Asian Age, and it was during his tenure there that these alleged incidents took place. The floodgates opened after a senior journalist revealed that Akbar was the subject of 'To the Harvey Weinsteins of the world', an article she had written last year, when the #MeToo movement had found momentum in the US. In the article, she narrated how he had called her for a job interview in his hotel room, where both bed and drinks were ready — a pattern that repeated in other women's accounts as well.
On Tuesday morning in Delhi, Swaraj, despite being a woman leading the ministry in which Akbar is an MoS, walked away from a reporter who asked whether she would initiate a probe into allegations against her junior minister. There was no reaction available from Akbar either on these allegations. Meanwhile, Gautam Adhikari — who was accused of harassment by at least two women during a period when he was editor-in-chief of city daily DNA — was reportedly removed from his post at an American think-tank.
The Times of India's Hyderabad resident editor, KR Sreenivas, who was accused of sexually harassment by 11 women, has been sent on administrative leave, reports said. On Monday, seven of the 11 women who levelled the allegations filed formal complaints with the TOI group. Business Standard said in a statement on Tuesday that its reporter Mayank Jain, who was accused by several women of harassment, has resigned and the paper has accepted it with immediate effect.
No. of women who have called out Akbar on Twitter for sexual misconduct
Inputs from agencies
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