MJ Akbar’s wife defended him from sexual assault charges

After as many as 20 women journalists accused former union minister MJ Akbar of sexual assault during his stint as a journalist, for the first time he got a strong defence, from his wife Mallika. Finally, coming out in support of her husband, she called the women, particularly Pallavi Gogoi, whose Washington Post article on Friday, accused Akbar of rape, Mallika said that she had brought ‘anguish and hurt to her family.’

“I have been silent all this while as a ‘me too’ campaign has been unleashed against my husband. 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’, she said.

Over 20 years ago, she recalled that Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in their home. “I learned of her and my husband’s involvement through her calls and her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish and hurt to my entire family,” she alleged.

She even lashed out at Tushita Patel, saying that neither she nor Gogoi looked ‘like victims of sexual assault.’ “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” she added.

She further alleged that Tushita Patel and Pallavi Gogoi were often at their home, happily drinking and dining with them. 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,” she claimed.

Earlier, Akbar rejected Gogoi’s rape allegations, claiming they were in a consensual relationship. In a statement referring to her article in the Washington Post, he said that  ” Somewhere around 1994, Pallavi Gogoi and I entered into consensual relationship that spanned several months. This relationship gave rise to talk and would later cause strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on best note,” he said.

“People who worked with me and knew both of us have indicated that they would be happy to bear testimony to what is stated above and at no stage did the behaviour of Pallavi Gogoi give any one of them impression that she was working under duress,” he added.

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