MJ Akbar has denied the rape allegations made against him by US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi. His wife has also come to his defence, saying the two were in a relationship.
Former Union Minister MJ Akbar has denied the rape allegations made against him by Indian-born, US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi. He told news agency ANI in a statement that he and Pallavi were in a "consensual relationship" at the time. His wife, Mallika Joseph, also broke her silence and said that the latest allegation forced her "to step in with what I know to be true." In her statement to ANI, which the news agency tweeted, Mallika pointed out Pallavi had caused "unhappiness and discord" in their home.
I learned of her and my husband's involvement through her late-night phone calls and her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish and hurt to my entire family.
Late last night, The Washington Post carried a byline article by Pallavi Gogoi in which she spoke about how Akbar, then the editor of The Asian Age, where they both worked, had raped her in a Jaipur hotel.
In his statement to ANI earlier today, Akbar said that the newspaper had forwarded "a series of cryptic and non-specific questions about the incidents alleged to have taken place approximately 23 years ago". He said that the claims were false and therefore denied. Akbar further said that a number of people who knew them both at the time would be willing to bear witness that Pallavi was not under duress at any time.
The accusation came less than a day after Akbar testified in a Delhi court in his defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani for a series of tweets accusing him of sexual harassment. Following the allegations, Akbar had resigned as Minister and decided to pursue the case in his personal capacity. Pallavi Gogoi is currently the Chief Business Editor of National Public Radio (NPR) in the US.
In her post, Pallavi also wrote how young journalists at The Asian Age, where she worked when the incident reportedly occurred, were mesmerised by "his use of language, his turns of phrase" and wished "that I could write like he did". So I took all the verbal abuse. After all, I was learning from the best. Or so I thought."
While nearly 20 other women also made allegations of sexual harassment against Akbar, this is the first time that he has been accused of rape, a criminal offense that carries a jail term of a minimum of 10 years and a maximum term of life imprisonment.