Indian minister MJ Akbar resigns in the wake of #MeToo

Lost in the woods.
Lost in the woods.
Image: Reuters/Anushree Fadnavis
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The #MeToo movement in India saw its biggest casualty yet today (Oct. 17).

Mubashar Jawed Akbar, India’s minister of state for external affairs, resigned from his position in the wake of allegations of sexual assault by at least a dozen women against him.

“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity,” Akbar said in a statement, posted on Twitter by news agency ANI. “I have, therefore, tendered my resignation.”

Akbar has filed a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani, who on Oct. 08, named him for having allegedly sexually misbehaved with her. Ramani was the first of many who spoke against him.

Over the last few weeks, multiple women have taken to Twitter to share alleged incidents of harassment at his hands during his tenure with the Asian Age newspaper. Akbar, the newspaper’s founder, worked as its editor from 1994 to 2008, and later went on to become a BJP parliamentarian in 2015.

His resignation from the ministry came within hours of 20 other female journalists pledging to testify against him in court.

This is the latest in a series of powerful men who have been forced to quit top positions following allegations of sexual misconduct. These include founders of comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba, the Hindustan Times newspaper’s political editor, Prashant Jha, and The Times of India’s Hyderabad resident editor KR Sreenivas.