MJ Akbar (File Image)
MJ Akbar (File Image)

Ex-Asian Age journalist accuses MJ Akbar of rape, lawyer denies charges

ANI | Updated: Nov 02, 2018 12:44 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov 2 (ANI): A former Asian Age employee has accused MJ Akbar of raping her at a hotel in Jaipur over two decades ago. The journalist, who is presently based in United States, has also claimed that she faced harassment at the hands of the former minister while working as the editor of the publication's op-ed page at the age of 23.
The journalist, Pallavi Gogoi, narrated her alleged ordeal in a detailed column for the Washington Post, published on November 1.
Recounting the details of the alleged incident, Gogoi claims that she was once in Jaipur after covering an assignment in a remote village, when MJ Akbar called her to his hotel for discussing a story. Upon reaching there, she was raped by the former editor of Asian Age, the woman alleged.
"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?" she wrote.
She further claimed that the incident left her broken and destroyed and she couldn't muster courage at the time to share it with her immediate colleagues.
"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," she asserted in her written account.
Gogoi further wrote that, years later, she shared the story of her alleged sexual assault with her friends and her to-be husband.
In the detailed piece about her experience with Akbar at the Asian Age, she has also alleged that before being raped, she resisted two of Akbar's attempts to forcibly kiss her.
She had joined the Asian Age at the age of 22 when Akbar was the editor.
Recalling the first incident from 1994, Gogoi claimed that Akbar first lunged to kiss her when she was getting an op-ed vetted by him. The incident, which she claims happened at the Asian Age office, left her red-faced, confused, and ashamed. She also asserted that she immediately confided in one of her colleagues.
The second incident, she wrote, happened at a posh Mumbai hotel, where Akbar called her to his room to see the layouts of a magazine. She claims to have fought another attempt of forced kissing by Akbar at this place, which resulted in scratch marks being left behind on her face.
While returning back to Delhi after the incident, Gogoi claimed to have been threatened by Akbar to be kicked out from the job. It was few months after these two incidents that the reported sexual assault in Jaipur took place, she added.
The American daily, in which the column was published, also reached out to MJ Akbar's lawyer for his client's version of the said incident.
"We reached out to Sandeep Kapur, M.J. 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,'" the Washington Post said. (ANI)