Indian minister rejects #MeToo allegations, plans to sue accusers

India’s minister of state for external affairs and former editor MJ Akbar, above, dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct against him made by some women journalists and said he would sue them for causing irreparable damage to his reputation and goodwill.

The #MeToo storm against Akbar rose when he was away on an official tour to Africa. Hours after returning to Delhi on Sunday, Akbar lashed out at the “false, baseless and wild accusations” against him lacking any evidence.

News agency ANI quoted him as saying that his lawyers will look into the allegations to decide future course of legal action.

Akbar called the accusations part of an agenda to malign him before the general elections next year.

The minister said he will reply to each allegation levelled against him. Some 15 journalists, who used to work under him in various newspapers, have accused him of sexual misconduct  citing incidents that happened over 10 years ago.

Dismissing journalist Ghazala Wahab’s allegation of sexual assault in 1997 at Asian Age, Akbar said the editorial team then used to work out of a small hall. All he had was a tiny cubicle and the things that Wahab alleged he did could not have escaped the attention of other editors in the room, he said.

On journalist Priya Ramani’s accusations, Akbar said she did not name him in a piece she had written in October last year for Vogue India because she knew he did not do anything wrong during the job interview at a Mumbai hotel. Her tweet reconfirmed this fact, he said.

Other federal ministers had declined to comment on the #MeToo accusations against Akbar. One minister Smriti Irani said it would be appropriate if Akbar himself responds to the charges when he returns from the African tour.