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HomeIndia'Akbar in power has chilling effect': 158 journalists demand M.J. Akbar's removal...

‘Akbar in power has chilling effect’: 158 journalists demand M.J. Akbar’s removal from WION News

Akbar was among the most high-profile people to be named in India's #MeToo movement. In August 2021 he was reported to have made his comeback in the media industry.  

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New Delhi: Over 150 journalists signed an appeal addressed to WION News and Zee News Thursday, demanding the removal of journalist and Rajya Sabha MP M.J Akbar from his position in WION.

Akbar was among the most high-profile people to be named in India’s #MeToo movement. He lost a defamation case against journalist Priya Ramani in February 2021 that was seen as a boost to the movement in India. However, he appealed the decision, and in August 2021, the Delhi High Court issued notice to Ramani on his appeal.

The founder of The Asian Age and former Minister of State for External Affairs, Akbar, who was accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape by multiple women in 2018, was reported in August 2021 to have made his comeback in the media industry by joining WION as an “Editorial Consultant”, according to Exchange4Media.

The Asian Age’s Resident Editor Suparna Sharma was among the media figures who shared the appeal on social media, and demanded the Editors Guild of India to “speak up” and “take action”.

The appeal currently lists 158 prominent male and female journalists and writers as signatories, including Aakar Patel, Barkha Dutt, Nidhi Razdan, Pallavi Gogoi, Raghu Karnad, Sharda Ugra and Sucharita Tyagi.

“By allowing someone accused of sexual harassment by multiple people, WION and Zee TV are violating the responsibility they have to journalists who carry out the important mission of informing the public,” the appeal said.

“Putting MJ Akbar in a position of power will have a chilling effect of silencing its own and other journalists against abuse,” the appeal added.

ThePrint reached Akbar’s lawyer Sandeep Kapoor by phone but there was no response till the time of publishing this report.

The allegations

Born in 1951, Mobashar Jawed Akbar hails from Telinipara, West Bengal, and made his name in the media industry by launching The Telegraph in 1982 and The Asian Age in 1994.

Akbar left the Age in 2008, and founded The Sunday Guardian in 2010, before becoming the BJP’s national spokesperson in 2014 and later, Minister of State for External Affairs in 2016.

He resigned from his position in October 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment, assault and rape from multiple women, including Ramani and Pallavi Gogoi, which he denied.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

Also read: Dalit Bahujan women need to reclaim Vishaka guidelines — they started Indian #MeToo first


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