Editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar, who had to resign as union minister over sexual harassment allegations against him, has now been accused of rape by a US-based journalist who worked with him over two decades ago. MJ Akbar has dismissed the allegations as false, his lawyer told The Washington Post, which has published the first-person account of Pallavi Gogoi, an editor at the National Public Radio (NPR). Pallavi Gogoi writes that MJ Akbar was the Editor-In-Chief at The Asian Age when she joined the newspaper as a “22-year-old star-struck journalist”.
Recounting the horror when she had gone to show him the op-ed page, she writes, “He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed.” The second incident was a few months later, when during the launch of a magazine, “he called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel (in Mumbai), 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.” It was followed by another call from her boss, this time from a hotel in Jaipur. “… even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful,” she alleges. Over 20 former colleagues of MJ Akbar have come out with their versions of abuse by a powerful newsman. He sued one of them for defamation.