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#MeToo movement: Editors Guild of India suspends MJ Akbar, Tarun Tejpal over sexual harassment allegations

The Guild had previously asked Akbar to withdraw the criminal defamation case filed against Priya Ramani as the Guild came out in support of the women journalists who have accused him of sexual harassment following the #MeToo drive in India.

Dec 13, 2018 15:38 IST
#MeToo movement: Editors Guild of India suspends MJ Akbar, Tarun Tejpal over sexual harassment alleg

The Editors Guild of India (EGI) on December 12, 2018 suspended the membership of journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar and former Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal over allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Executive Committee of the EGI also decided to seek a formal response from journalist Gautam Adhikari on the charges against him.

Statement by EGI:

The Guild had previously asked Akbar to withdraw the criminal defamation case filed against Priya Ramani as the Guild came out in support of the women journalists who have accused him of sexual harassment following the #MeToo drive in India.

Accusations against MJ Akbar

Former Union Minister MJ Akbar has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment.

Journalist Priya Ramani was the first to name Akbar in a Twitter post on October 8, 2018, revealing that an article she had written last year about an editor inviting her to his hotel room for a job interview and asking her to sit on the bed with him was Akbar.

Following Ramani's complaint, as many as 20 women came out in support of Priya Ramani, accusing Akbar of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour when he worked as an Editor in 'The Asian Age' newspaper.

The journalists urged the court to hear their testimonies against Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

Who are these women?

These women are Meenal Baghel, Manisha Pande, Tushita Patel, Kanika Gahlaut, Suparna Sharma, Ramola Talwar Badam, Hoihnu Hauzel, Aisha Khan, Kushalrani Gulab, Kaniza Gazari, Malavika Banerjee, A T Jayanthi, Hamida Parkar, Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar, Sujata Dutta Sachdeva, Reshmi Chakraborty, Kiran Manral, Christina Francis and Sanjari Chatterjee.

Reaction by MJ Akbar

Following Ramani’s allegations, Akbar filed criminal defamation case against Ramani.

Later on October 17, 2018, MJ Akbar resigned as the Minister of State for External Affairs in the wake of this #MeToo movement.

Accusations against Tarun Tejpal

Tarun Tejpal, the former Editor-in-Chief of Tehelka magazine, has been charged for alleged sexual assault of a junior female colleague in a Goa hotel in November 2013. He was subsequently arrested and is out on bail.

#MeToo movement in India

• The #MeToo campaign first began as a hashtag on Twitter in 2017, when Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment by over 70 women.

• Almost after an year, the movement has now arrived in the Bollywood, Indian film industry; and is spreading through India.

• The #MeToo movement gained momentum in India after former Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta alleged that Nana Patekar sexually harassed her on a movie set in 2008. However, Patekar has rejected Dutta's allegations and said he made the same denial 10 years ago.

• The movement has recently gained momentum in India as more women have begun sharing their experiences of sexual harassment on social media.

• To name a few, these brave women are actress Kangana Ranaut, actress Sandhya Mridul, writer-director-producer Vinta Nanda, singer Sona Mohapatra, journalist Avantika Mehta, writer Mahima Kukreja, reporter Anoo Bhuyan, journalist Sandhya Menon, and many more.

• Many well-known comedians, journalists, and actors have been named and shamed on social media as allegations of sexual misconduct continue to burst out.