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On allegations against minister MJ Akbar, Congress says ‘silence not a way out’

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the minister concerned needs to speak up and the matter should be investigated.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2018 21:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress,MeToo movement,Me Too movement in India
Minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar.(PTI File Photo)

As allegations of sexual harassment against junior external affairs minister MJ Akbar swirled as part of the #MeToo movement in India, his boss Sushma Swaraj and party, the BJP, refused to comment. The Congress has said that “silence is not an option.”

Swaraj was asked by a reporter what she would do as a woman minister about allegations of harassment levelled against Akbar. The minister heard the question and walked away.

MJ Akbar trended on Twitter for hours as at least four women took to social media to allege sexual misconduct when he was a journalist. Neither Akbar nor the foreign ministry has responded to the charges.

“It is an extremely serious matter and the minister concerned needs to speak up. Silence cannot be a way out. This matter should be investigated. We would like to hear from both the minister in question and the Prime Minister on this issue,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters, according to news agency PTI.

At a regular party briefing, PTI said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra was asked several questions on the issue but he declined to respond. He said his mandate was to speak on the specific issue of the Congress role in allegedly fomenting violence against migrants in Gujarat.

The #MeToo movement has snowballed since actor Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment on the sets of a film in 2008. Nana Patekar denied the charges but there were others who spoke out against him also.

Since then, many women in the film and media industry have come out in public to share their experiences of harassment.

The campaign started from the United States where Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual misconduct last year. Soon enough, more than 70 women came forward to accuse the film producer of sexual misconduct, including rape, in a series of incidents dating back decades.

The accusations gave rise to the #MeToo movement, which has seen women publicly accusing powerful men in business, government and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

First Published: Oct 09, 2018 21:50 IST