Indian American Muslim group demands resignation of Indian minister M.J. Akbar

Akbar was accused of sexual harassment by 10 women.

An organization of Indian American Muslims has asked India’s junior Minister for External Affairs M.J. Akbar to step down after he was accused of sexual harassment by 10 women journalists.

“The Association of Indian Muslims of America demands that M.J. Akbar resign forthwith from the central Indian cabinet and then defend himself against the charges in a court of law,” said Kaleem Kawaja, said the Executive Director of the group, in a press release.

Nearly all the women who have accused him of harassment so far are former colleagues of Akbar. Some of the incidents in questions date back to the 1990s, while Akbar was the editor of the Kolkata-based Telegraph, or the The Asian Age, based in Delhi.

The women said Akbar, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, subjected them to physical and verbal sexual abuse.

“It is inconceivable that a current minister of the central government has in the past behaved in such an immoral manner with so many women,” Kawaja said, adding that the charges against Akbar “appear to be substantive,” and “credible.”

On Monday, the minister filed a defamation suit against one of the journalists, Priya Ramani, in a Delhi court, saying that she “intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious” accusations. “That the accused herself, while putting forward the aforementioned defamatory statements, relating to incidents which allegedly occurred 20 years ago, simultaneously admits that the complainant has not done anything to her,” the lawsuit said. Akbar also said that the allegations were politically motivated.

In statement issued on Twitter, Ramani said she was “deeply disappointed that a union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy.” She said she is “ready to fight allegations of defamations.”

A week ago about 10 women journalists made public allegations of sexual harassment against current BJP central government minister MJ Akbar. The abuse comprised of forcible groping and touching the bodies of these women journalists and making lewd propositions to them. In India the women’s #MeToo movement has launched a campaign on behalf of women who were sexually abused by men in powerful positions.

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