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Posted at: Oct 12, 2018, 2:07 AM; last updated: Oct 12, 2018, 12:11 PM (IST)

MeToo storm: MEA mum, Akbar continues with business as usual

Minister of State for External Affairs won’t cut short foreign trip, to return on Sunday

Time-buying strategy

  • This is being seen as a time-buying strategy with sources arguing that the allegations are very old and personal and so there can be no official statement at the level of the ministry
MeToo storm: MEA mum, Akbar continues with business as usual
MJ Akbar. — File photo

Smita Sharma
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 11

MJ Akbar, the first high-level political figure and government minister caught in the #MeToo storm, is expected to be back in New Delhi only later over the weekend. He is currently in Malabo capital of Equatorial Guinea on an official visit.

Since Sunday, at least half a dozen women journalists have gone public with serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against him dating back to his years as a prominent journalist and editor. However, not only has Akbar refused to respond to the allegations, but the Ministry of External Affairs, too, has been tight-lipped about his official engagements.

When the #MeToo storm hit the Minister of State for External Affairs, he was in Abuja in Nigeria as keynote speaker in an India-West Africa Regional Conclave organised by EXIM Bank and CII. The meeting was also attended by MoS Commerce CR Chaudhary instead of Suresh Prabhu, who was to originally address the conclave.

Since then, Akbar inaugurated a Mahatma Gandhi photo exhibition, held official talks with Nigerian Vice President and Foreign Minister in Lagos and delivered a lecture on bilateral defence cooperation at the Nigerian Army Resource Centre among other engagements.

However, amid speculation of Akbar cutting short his visit and returning home on Thursday, sources confirmed to The Tribune that the junior minister was now in Malabo on an official visit and was likely to return only on Sunday.

The BJP has also been told by its top leadership to maintain silence over the controversy and let the storm blow over. Earlier, The Tribune had sought a direct response from Akbar’s boss Sushma Swaraj if there would be any probe ordered but she walked away without any comment.

Subhash Ghai named too

The Mumbai Police began its probe against actor Nana Patekar, dance director Ganesh Acharya and two others on a complaint filed by actor Tanushree Dutta. Meanwhile, fresh sexual harassment allegations tumbled out including against those in entertainment, media and advertising industries. The police said it will record statements of witnesses before summoning Patekar and others.

The latest to join the list was Subhash Ghai, who was accused of rape by an anonymous woman, even as he denied the allegation and threatened a defamation suit.

(With PTI inputs)

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