I salute Priya Ramani and all the women who have come out in the open and named MJ Akbar (“My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that”). It is important that these VIPs who are doing wrong be exposed and publicly shamed. If we lose momentum now, there may never be another brave soul who raises their voice. Thank you Samar and Priya for your courage and for standing up for these women. – June Pinto
We are with women of dignity. We are with you. Every man with daughters is with you. All civilised men are with you. Poliics need not come here. Culture and tradition are above the law. The whole world is with you. – Raghunath
I takes lot of courage to stand up against the powerful. I hope the minister in question is made to pay for his misdeeds. the government’s silence in this regard has been worrisome indeed. I guess their “beti bachao” initiative is limited only to the girl child. – Sreeja Nair
I have been a staunch supporter of Modi but he will lose the respect of the masses if he does not pull up MJ Akbar. Priya Ramani, please keep up your fight and please let me know how a normal citizen like me can help. We will break Akbar’s false ego. – Ash K
Samar Halarnkar is a very courageous man to support his wife at this time! He deserves a great woman like Priya Ramani as a life partner. All power to these young women in their fight. – Nalini Nayak
What a wonderful time it is. The BJP government’s minister is filing a case against an ordinary woman with all the power given to him by his post. Wah Modi, wah BJP. Beti bachao, beti padhao. – Preetpal Singh
This is a very moving article. The intelligentsia is with you both in your fight against this Ravan in the guise of Akbar. You are not alone. There are a lot of sensitive hearts in this population of 1.3 billion people. Hundreds of Akbars have come and gone. The party who is supporting Akbar in his fight against a woman should also pay the price. – Balaram
I commend Samar Halarnkar for his support. Many men would discourage their wives and ask them to forget the matter. This author’s stance is itself a great support. The couple may consider crowdfunding their defense. The other party has to be taught they cannot intimidate the speaker. – Tanuja
While the odds may seem to be stacked against the author’s wife, owing to Akbar’s might, his are just tactics of intimidation and nothing more. With 16 women now accusing him, he has already lost the battle, and no one knows this better than him. Since the political fallout for Akbar and his party will be huge, it is in the women’s interest to escalate the issue, to respond to his intimidation. They have the full support of the people. Wishing Priya Ramani all the very best in her efforts. – Arun Mehta
#MeToo was not a quick response. The instances had been buried in the memories of the women. Now that the graveyard has opened, the alleged offenders are quick in jumping to their defense. Now, if the alleged offender tries to strong-arm the survivors using the law, the survivors will have no choice but to defend themselves with the long arm of the law. – Baliram More
This write up seems to target not the alleged perpetrator but the BJP government, for reasons best known to the author. As a man and husband, why didn’t he raise the issue earlier? Why is he worried about the strength of the person against whom he is fighting? As a man, I condemn the behaviour of someone in authority, but don’t agree with propagation of hatred against the necessary part of family and society. I appreciate if someone disagrees with grace. – Sudheer Uppadhayay
Had this journalist shown courage 20 years back, not only would she have gotten justice but she would have also cautioned other journalists. Reporting such cases just before elections leads a person nowhere even if the allegations are true. As is, such cases are very difficult to prove as it is hard to get evidence, which is the very base of jurisprudence. These days, moral values are at a low and politicians are stooping down to any level to grab power, I personally find very little to believe. – Rajkumar Sharma
Why now? Why did nobody speak up against him when he was neither minister nor a politician? When when he is a hard working minister of this government and an elderly man? – Balgovind Sharma
Reading the stories of Tushita Patel and those of other women on Scroll.in, one cannot help but conclude that MJ Akbar seems to be a serial sexual predator (“MJ Akbar, stop with the lying. You sexually harassed me too. Your threats will not silence us”). That so many women have come forward to charge Akbar with misconduct is a startling testament to how long he has gotten away with his predatory behaviour. What makes the stories of these women so compelling is that they have come forward with their accounts knowing fully well that they live in a society where women are often blamed or faulted for men’s indiscretions, and that men of power and influence tend to remain beyond the the grip of the legal system.
Akbar should be held accountable for his actions by the legal system through due process. – Shankar Chaudhuri
I am writing in support of Shreyas Raghuram’s letter to the editor about the #MeToo campaign. In the storm of accusations, justifiable or unjustifiable, that are being levelled against a variety of men, there is at last one voice reminding us that India is a democracy in which the rule of law prescribes that no citizen is guilty because someone says so. The presumption that the accuser is right and the accused has no say makes a mockery of the very serious subject of sexual violence against women. The ripple effect of these accusations has the same effect as propaganda, which operates on the principle that if you repeat something often enough, it becomes the truth.
The fact that women are now speaking out about offences against them is a great step forward in the fight for women’s rights and I hope it will spread to the truly helpless among us who as yet have no voice. But the authencity and strength of such a campaign depends on its truth. So far we have no assurance of that, only a barrage of accusations that would have us condemn the men they name.
I know no greater defender of women’s rights and dignity than Kiran Nagarkar, both in his life and through his unforgettable fiction. To make the charge, as one journalist has done, that his life does not match his fiction, shows her ignorance of the man. This and other charges flung against him will not damage his integrity as a human being or as a writer, but they will cast doubt on the veracity and integrity of the cause they claim to represent. – Nayantara Sahgal
It is good that some women journalists brought forth allegations against a prominent journalist and politician (“By allowing Akbar to stay, Narendra Modi indicates that India under BJP is no country for women”). But it is a sorry state of affairs when someone hurts the modesty of opposite sex. It should have been brought to the notice of public forthwith, without thinking about its after effect. Respect for women should be a top priority for every man in the world. – Patal Das
One thing I can’t understand is: what were these women doing all these years and why are they out in the open all of a sidden? Why didn’t they raise their voices when these alleged incidents occured? The Vishakha vs State of Rajasthan verdict had already happened. – Indranil Dutt
It seems Scroll.in is using #MeToo as a platform to target the politicians it opposes. Start writing about all political parties. Is BJP the only target? – Shrikant Agarawala
Your very critical piece on Modi retaining MJ Akbar as his junior minister despite the accusations of sexual harassment made against the former journalist is shameful. Since when does an accused become guilty before being proven as such? I sense a very severe bias against MJ Akbar just because he jumped ship from the Congress to the BJP. It is very clear that Scroll.in is Congress-oriented from the manner in which it has tried to prove Modi to be biased against women merely because he has not acted against Akbar. Fortunately, Modi is a mature person and does not act on provocation. He has shown that time and time again. – Nelson D’Silva
I am not taking any sides, but it is extremely saddening to see these kind of extreme and polarising opinions in the media, based on allegations only. The purely factual and unbiased journalism that we grew up hearing about was perhaps a fairy tale. It used to be to the prerogative of the reader to understand, perceive and react, either at the ballot box or in their home.
In this article, how has the author concluded that the allegations are strong enough to label India as country that is not for women? How have you concluded that these allegations have enough proof to challenge the core fabric of this great nation? Why are media houses putting decisive opinions before placing details? Who has given you the right to label a person as guilty or not guilty and order punishment?
The moment you have an agenda, you cannot be called a journalist. You become shrewd and sly postmen. This is such a dangerous thing to happen to our society.
Before shaping the next opinion, ask yourself: what is your responsibility? The media’s job is to place the facts as they are. Leave it to readers to make their interpretations and debate the matter. – Ranjan
If allegations are sufficient for convection, then what is the role of law and judiciary in our democratic country? – Rajendra Hardenia
All of us talk about the great culture in Hinduism where women are given an honourable place in society and worshipped as goddesses. Every government talks about empowering women and increase representation.
So when such atrocities are committed on women, the government cannot keep mum. Cover-ups and prolonged investigations after which the guilty will eventually go unpunished will do great harm to our society’s moral fibre and to the nation at large.
Speedy justice is the need of the hour. – M Nagarajan
This is horrifying to read about (“#MeToo: In world of Carnatic music and Bharatanatyam, women say harassment is an open secret”). I had thought that music and dance are a part of our culture and hence live up to the guru-shishya parampara, where everyone was respectful of each other.
And to hear that these senior artists have known about this all along and are only now saying that “something should be done” is extraordinarily disheartening.
If there’s one part of our culture that touches even young girls and boys, it is music and dance. Children implicitly trust their gurus and do exactly what is asked of them. That’s why they’re very vulnerable. And, as the article says, most classes happen in the homes of the guru.
In the film industry, most of the victims are older than the pupils of Carnatic music and dance. Are such young,innocent kids being left unguarded when this malaise is apparently already known? I still can’t believe that our dance and music gurus and other musicians are this untrustworthy! I hope that the cases mentioned in this report are just a few exceptions and not the rule. – Sundar BN
It’s good that this movement is highlighting the dark underbelly of the classical arts world. It is nice of TM Krishna to accept that he should have stood up for those affected much earlier. I remember the hue and cry that was made when Krishna earlier wrote about the muck that prevails in Chennai Sabahs.
It is surprising that this has stayed hidden for so many years and young artists, for fear of their careers, had to undergo so much. – Krishnan.