New Delhi, Oct 16: Journalist Priya Ramani on Monday said she was prepared to contest allegations of defamation brought against her by Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, whom she has accused of sexual harassment.
In a statement, the journalist, who has levelled allegations of sexual misbehaviour against Akbar, asserted that the minister was seeking to silence the survivors through intimidation and harassment.
'I am deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy. By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Akbar has made his stand clear: rather than engage with the serious allegations that many women have made against him, he seeks to silence them through intimidation and harassment.
'Needless to say, I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,' Ramani said.
On Monday, Akbar filed a defamation complaint in a Delhi court against Ramani.
Akbar submitted in his complaint that Ramani levelled the charges "wilfully, deliberately, intentionally and maliciously" on social media.
He contended through his complaint that it was also apparent that the false narrative against him was being circulated in a motivated manner for the fulfilment of an agenda.
Akbar further submitted that Ramani has not only damaged his goodwill and reputation in his social circles but also affected his reputation in the community, friends, family and colleagues and caused irreparable loss and tremendous distress.
On Akbar questioning the timing of the allegations against him, Ramani said,' These testimonies have emerged as a slow but increasing empowerment of women over the years and a MeToo movement unfolding across social media in India and across the world. In the case of M J Akbar, at the time these incidents ocured the complaininant women were working for him.Those who have spoken up against Akbar have done so at great risk to their personal and professional lives.
'At this moment, it is disingenuous to ask why they have spoken now, as we are well aware of the stigma and shame that sexual crimes inflict upon victims. Rather than cast aspersions on the intent and motives of these women, we must reflect on how to improve the workplace for future generations of men and women,' she added.
The Indian Youth Congress also staged a protest demonstration outside Akbar's residence. (UNI)