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MJ Akbar, Facing #MeToo Allegations, Appears in Booklet on Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas, Triggers Row

More than 4,000 delegates from 85 countries are participating in the Prawasi Bharatiya Diwas this year on the theme ‘Role of Indian diaspora in Building a New India’.

Qazi Faraz Ahmad | News18@qazifarazahmad

Updated:January 22, 2019, 5:58 PM IST
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Lucknow: Accused in a number of sexual harassment cases, journalist-turned-politician MJ Akbar’s photo appeared in the booklets distributed among the guests at the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in Varanasi.

More than 4,000 delegates from 85 countries are participating in the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas this year which on the theme ‘Role of Indian diaspora in Building a New India’.

The cover of the booklet says ‘Abhootpurv Sampark Asadharan Safaltaen’ and carries pictures of PM Narendra Modi on top, with photos of MoS Maj Gen (Retd) VK Singh along with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and MJ Akbar, former Minister of State in Ministry of External Affairs. Under the headline ‘Team Videsh Mantralay’, Akbar’s picture appears alongside Sushma Swaraj and VK Singh.

However, the booklet was released in May 2018 when Akbar was in the ministry. In October 2018, a number of women had come forward accusing Akbar of sexually harassing them. The distribution of the booklet has left the government red faced. An official present tried to explain the issue and said, “This is not a recently published book. MJ Akbar was a minister when this book was released.”

Former MoS had to put down his papers after at least 20 women, from India and abroad, accused him of sexual harassment during the #MeToo movement wave which gained momentum in India in October last year.

“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. I have therefore tendered my resignation from the office of Minister of External Affairs,” Akbar had said in a statement.

He has sued journalist Priya Ramani, who spearheaded the movement against him, for criminal defamation in a Delhi court.

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| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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