Activists seek FIR against Akbar on rape allegations made by female journalist

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Jaipur: Several Women and Human Rights organizations came together and collectively demanded that the police filed a complaint against journalist and Member of Parliament (Upper House) MJ Akbar for the rape allegation made by a former journalist (female) who worked under Akbar, about 23 years back.

“We attach the link to the article written by Pallavi Gogoi, published in the Washington Post dated November 1, 2018. Pallavi is currently the Chief Business Editor for the NPR in the US. Pallavi clearly says that she was sexually assaulted by MJ Akbar when she was a 22-year-old in Delhi. And a few months later she was raped by him in Jaipur, about 23 years ago. At that time she worked as a journalist for the Asian Age,” the joint statement read.

The letter also carried Washington Post’s link in which Pallavi narrated her ordeal in graphic details.

She wrote, “….Soon after the Bombay incident, one story took me to a remote village a few hundred miles from Delhi to cover the appalling saga of a young couple who were hanged by members of the village because the lovers were from different castes. The assignment was to end in Jaipur. When I checked back, Akbar said I could come discuss the story in his hotel in Jaipur, far from Delhi.

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………”

The undersigned argued about the situation in which the survivor spoke and strongly demanded to proactively contact her and provide all support with the DGP, Rajasthan, OP Galhotra, in order convince him to register FIR and initiate the judicial procedure.

In the statement, the activists said, “The young woman has had the courage to speak out loud against the serial sexual violence she suffered on the hands of a powerful journalist, now a politician, after 23 years. She speaks of her fear in going to the police at that young age to report an attack on her that has been a source of trauma all her life. She says, “I’ve always felt that Akbar is above the law and justice doesn’t apply to him. I felt he would never pay the price for what he had done to me.”

They further added, “We therefore believe the Rajasthan police should be proactive and contact her through the Home and the External Affairs Ministry (GOI) requesting the Indian Embassy in the US to contact the aggrieved woman and ask her if she would like help and support in filing an FIR. We believe that in particular cases such this, it is possible to file it online or via email, whatever be the facility. She should also be assured that there will be a just, fair and speedy investigation. In the interest of a speedy investigation her testimony can be also recorded via video conferencing by the police and the magistrate in order to facilitate the investigation process without the victim having to go through unnecessary travel and trauma.”

Those assembled in solidarity with the journalist, maintained, “In the eventuality of her filing an FIR investigation should be completed urgently, so that the law can take its course and Pallavi can get justice.”

Women right activists including Dr Renuka Pamecha of WRG, Dr Asha Kaushik and Dr Lad Kumari Jain of RUWA, Kavita Srivastava of PUCL, Aruna Roy of MKSS, social activists Kamla Bhasin and Anita Mathur, and Nisha Sidhu of NFIW signed the letter.

Meanwhile, after the allegation levelled by Pallavi, both Akbar and his wife Mallika Joseph have claimed that back then Akbar had an affair with her and that whatever had transpired was because the duo were in a relationship. It was consensual.

But the US based journalist strongly denied it and tweeted, “A relationship that is based on coercion, and abuse of power, is not consensual.”

However, since Me Too movement has started in India, at least a dozen women, mostly female journalists have alleged sexual harassment by Akbar. Akbar who was minister in Narendra Modi cabinet has to resign too after the allegations.

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