A day after Union minister M J Akbar filed a criminal defamation complaint against journalist Priya Ramani over sexual harassment allegations, another former colleague of his on Tuesday came forward to make similar charges.
Writing in web portal Scroll, Tushita Patel, who was part of the team that started The Asian Age, headed by Akbar, spoke about three separate incidents, one in which he had greeted her in his underwear and twice when he had forcibly kissed her.
The number of women who have now made sexual harassment allegations, including assault, against the former editor is over ten.
When The Indian Express reached out to Patel, she said, “I have said what I had to.” Calls and messages to Akbar went unanswered.
According to Patel, the first incident took place in 1992, when she was a trainee at The Telegraph in Kolkata. Akbar, who was The Telegraph Editor, had quit to join politics in 1989. She said she met him the first time with friends, and that later, he had persuaded her to meet him at his hotel for some “work-related discussion”.
Patel wrote that when she rang the doorbell, “You opened the door dressed only in your underwear. I stood at the door, stricken, scared and awkward. You stood there like the VIP man, amused by my fear. I did go in and carried on blabbering out of fear till you finally put on a bathrobe.”
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She mentioned two other incidents, of 1993, when she was a senior sub-editor at Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad and “you were the editor-in-chief”.
According to Patel, the first incident took place when Akbar “summoned” her to his hotel “to discuss my pages”. She writes: “Suddenly you got up, grabbed me and kissed me hard — your stale tea breath and your bristly moustache are still etched in the recesses of my memory. I wriggled out and ran till I reached the road….”
The next day in office, Patel wrote, “You ushered me into the empty conference room, grabbed me again and kissed me.”
In her piece, Patel also supported the women who have accused Akbar of sexual harassment and assault, adding, “Enough with the legal intimidation — we can see you in court too… You know who we are. You’ll recognise us when you see us at the barricades.”