After Union Minister and former journalist MJ Akbar filed a defamation suit against journalist Priya Ramani, 20 other journalists have decided to testify in court against him. All the journalists either currently or formerly belong to The Asian Age, where Akbar used to be the editor. The women have collectively requested Delhi’s Patiala House Court, where Akbar has filed the defamation suit, to consider their testimonies.

In their statement, the journalists said that they stand by Ramani’s claim of Akbar misbehaviour when he was the editor and proprietor of The Asian Age. “What Mr Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many many women over the years,” they said.

“He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament.”

The journalists praised Ramani for exposing Akbar’s “casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation” while he was at The Asian Age.

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“Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment,” the journalists said in the statement.

“What Mr Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many many women over the years”

The collective that has pledged to testify are Meenal Baghel, Manisha Pande, Tushita Patel, Kanika Gahlaut, Suparna Sharma, Ramola Talwar Badam, Hoihnu Hauzel, Aisha Khan, Reshmu Chakraborty and Kushalrani Gulab. A journalist from Deccan Chronicle, Christina Francis, has also signed the statement.

MJ Akbar, who also started The Sunday Guardian, is one of the many personalities from the media industry who are accused of sexually harassing women. But he is the first and only politician until now who has been exposed in the #MeToo movement.

Akbar is the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs. He has been drawing women’s ire ever since he returned from his recent Nigeria trip. Over 16 women have shared their stories of harassment by him when he was a journalist. Initially, he decided to resign from his post, but he backtracked and passed the buck on the assumption that this is a “political agenda” to defame him.

While many women have exposed Akbar, he has only filed the case against Ramani, who said she is ready to face court proceedings. She said, “truth and the absolute truth is my only defence.”

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