The #MeToo movement continues to leap forward in India.
Mubashar Jawed Akbar, India’s minister of state for external affairs, resigned Wednesday in the wake of sexual assault allegations by more than a dozen women, reports Quartz.
“Since I have decided to seek justice in a court of law in my personal capacity, I deem it appropriate to step down from office and challenge false accusations levied against me, also in a personal capacity,” Akbar said in a statement, posted on Twitter by news agency ANI. “I have, therefore, tendered my resignation.”
But opposition is mounting. News of Akbar’s stepping down comes just hours after roughly 20 female journalists pledged to testify against him, noted NDTV.
Akbar, one of the founders of the Asian Age, acted as editor of the newspaper from 1994 to 2008 before he became a BJP parliamentarian in 2015. Journalist Priya Ramani was one of the first to accuse Akbar and has since been named as the sole defendant in his defamation lawsuit.
“I am deeply disappointed that a Union minister should dismiss the detailed allegations of several women as a political conspiracy,” Ramani stated in an interview with the Times of India. “By instituting a case of criminal defamation against me, Mr. 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 allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defense,” she added.
Akbar is latest member of India’s elite class to resign in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct.
Founders of comedy collective All India Bakchod (AIB), Tanmay Bhat and Gursimran Khamba, the Hindustan Times newspaper’s political editor, Prashant Jha, and the Times of India’s Hyderabad resident editor KR Sreenivas are among several boldfaced names that have been called out by the #MeToo movement.