US-based journalist accuses MJ Akbar of rape
jkupdate.com | 02-Nov-2018 03:56 PM
  • former Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar.(File photo)

NEW DELHI: Another woman journalist has come out against former Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar accusing the former journalist of rape.

In a column in ‘The Washington Post’, Pallavi Gogoi, the chief business editor for National Public Radio, recollects how she was sexually assaulted by the then ‘Asian Age’ editor.

The now US citizen recalls how she was sexually exploited 23 years ago while she was a 24-year-old editor of the Op-Ed page at ‘The Asian Age’.

She said she recently came to know of a report where many women journalists had accused the veteran journalist of sexual harassment.

She writes in the Washington Post, “I was 22 years old when I went to work at the Asian Age, where the vast majority of us were women. Most of us who joined the outlet were barely out of college. We hadn’t even learned the most basic tools of journalism. Working in New Delhi under Akbar, we were star-struck.”

She continues, “But I would soon pay a very big price for doing a job I loved. My friend Tushita can still recall the moments after the first time Akbar assaulted me. It must have been late spring or summer of 1994, and I had gone into his office—his door was often closed. I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed.

“The second incident was a few months later, when I was summoned to Bombay to help launch a magazine. He called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel, again to see the layouts. When he again came close to me to kiss me, I fought him and pushed him away. He scratched my face as I ran away, tears streaming down. That evening, I explained the scratches to a friend by telling her I had slipped and fallen at the hotel.”

She claims that Akbar later invited her to his hotel room in Jaipur where she was doing a new report to discuss the story.

“In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?

“What was worse was that after that first time, his grip over me got tighter. I stopped fighting his advances because I felt so helpless. He continued to coerce me. For a few months, he continued to defile me sexually, verbally, emotionally.”

‘The Washington Post’ reached out to Sandeep Kapur, MJ Akbar’s lawyer, for comment on the accounts laid out in this piece. The response: “My client states that these [incidents and allegations] are false and expressly denied.”

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