Editor-turned politician M J Akbar, who was forced to resign from the union cabinet, following allegations of sexual harassment by several female journalists, who worked with him earlier, is continue to receive such accusations. In the latest allegation, NPR’s (National Public Radio) chief Business editor Pallavi Gogoi has accused him of sexual harassment and rape in 1994 when she was working with The Asian Age as an op-editor.
The journalist gave a first-person account of the sexual harassment she faced in an article published in The Washington Post, yesterday. Pallavi, who was just 23 then was made the Op-Ed page editor, writes: “It was a big responsibility at a young age. But I would soon pay a very big price for doing a job I loved.”
The first incident she describes, was at his office when he tried to kiss her forcibly as a way to applaud her efforts after she made her first op-ed page. The second incident was in Mumbai at The Taj hotel, where they had gone for a magazine launch. Pallavi recalls being called to his room, forced upon and then being scratched when she fought back. M J Akbar threatened to throw her out if she again resisted his advances but Pallavi did not quit.
The third instance occurred when Akbar asked her to visit his hotel room for ‘work’ discussion in Jaipur. She alleges that M J Akbar ripped her clothes off and raped her. Filled with shame, Pallavi decided not to report it. After a few months, she was posted at their London office as a ‘reward’ for her coverage of the 1994 elections. Instead of an escape route, this became a method to prey on her in a foreign land, where she had no defence.
Things got worse when one day at their London office M J Akbar spotted Pallavi laughing and talking to a male colleague. He screamed, hit her and went on a rampage, throwing things from the desk — a pair of scissors, a paper-weight, anything he could lay his hands upon. After months of torture and sexual harassment, Pallavi finally q
Akbar recently stepped down as union cabinet minister over several sexual harassment allegations against him. Akbar’s lawyer told Washington Post that the politician has denied the allegations as false by the US-based journalist.