In the latest development former minister MJ Akbar’s wife has broken her silence on the allegations of sexual harassment against her husband. Akbar’s wife Mallika was responding to the most recent rape allegation levelled on Akbar by US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi.
“I have been silent all this while as a ‘me too’ campaign has been unleashed against my husband, Mr. MJ Akbar. However, the Washington Post article by Pallavi Gogoi alleging that she was raped by him forces me to step in with what I know to be true,” MJ Akbar’s wife Mallika told ANI.
Gogoi has alleged that she was raped by Akbar, 23 years ago, when she was a journalist with the Asian Age newspaper and he was the Editor.
“Tushita Patel and Pallavi Gogoi were often at our home, happily drinking and dining with us. Neither carried the haunted look of victims of sexual assault. I don’t know Pallavi’s reasons for telling this lie but a lie it is,” Mallika told ANI.”Over 20 yrs ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness & discord in our home. I learned of her & my husband’s involvement through her calls & her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish & hurt to my entire family,” MJ Akbar’s wife told ANI.
“At an Asian Age party at our home, crowded with young journalists, I have watched with mortification and pain as they danced close. I had confronted my husband at the time and he decided to prioritize his family,” added Mallika.
Gogoi wrote about her painful experience in the Washington Post newspaper.
According to the report in the Washington Post, Pallavi joined the Asian Age when she was 22. When she started working under MJ Akbar with the other colleagues, she assumed that it was a great opportunity to be guided and mentored by him. While he was at Asian Age, he helped with the launch of Sunday Magazine and the Telegraph as well.
At that time, Akbar was in his 40s and made sure that his employees were aware of his journalistic capabilities and skills. Pallavi was promoted as the editor of the op-ed page of the newspaper.
She writes that one day, she went to his office, the door to which was usually closed, to show him her article that she wanted to get published in the paper. While appreciating her for the effort, he came forward to kiss her. She ran out of the office feeling embarrassed and ashamed. One of her colleagues saw her disturbed and asked her the matter with whom she discussed the entire incident, she writes.
A few months later, she was sent to Mumbai to help with the launch of a magazine. MJ Akbar was staying at Taj Hotel in Mumbai and called Pallavi to his fancy looking room to have a look at the layouts. In the room, he tried to force himself on her, but Gogoi fought him and while she was running out of the room, he scratched her face.
On returning to Delhi, Akbar threatened to take away her job if she resisted him again. She changed her work schedule in order to be on the field before he was in.
After sometime MJ Akbar and she were in Jaipur at the same time. This time she fought him but he was more powerful than her, ripped off her clothes and raped her. This went on for months as she then lost courage and strength to fight him which gave him the advantage of misbehaving with her repeatedly, Gogoi said in her narration in the Washington Post.
After a spate of allegations emerged against Akbar, he resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs and said that he will take recourse to the law and respond to the allegations. He has filed criminal defamation charges against the Priya Ramani, the first woman who accused MJ Akbar of sexual harassment and the matter is now subjudice.
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