M J Akbar Sues Journalist Priya Ramani Over MeToo Allegations
India’s junior foreign minister MJ Akbar has filed a defamation suit against one of at least 10 women who have accused the former editor of sexual harrasment.
The lawsuit filed on Monday named journalist Priya Ramani as the sole accused and said that she “intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated and salacious” allegations to harm his reputation, according to Reuters news agency.
Ramani, in a statement posted on Twitter, said she was “deeply disappointed” by Akbar’s court complaint and was “ready to fight the allegations of defamation”.
Rather than “engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment,” she added.
Under Indian law, defamation is a criminal offence, punishable by up to two years in jail.
The lawsuit comes amid protests calling for Akbar’s resignation in India’s capital, New Delhi.
More than 200 protesters from the youth wing of the opposition Congress party waved placards and chanted slogans outside Akbar’s Delhi home on Monday.
Some jumped barricades and clashed with police and dozens were detained, a Reuters witness said.
Akbar, 67, a veteran editor who founded several publications, has been accused of a range of inappropriate behaviour by female journalists who previously worked as his subordinates.
Many have called for Akbar to be sacked and have threatened to boycott events he was scheduled to attend until he resigned.
Shutapa Paul, another jounalist who has accused Akbar of harassment, told Al Jazeera the minister “has any moral responsibility he should step down”.