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US-based journalist accuses MJ Akbar of rape

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New Delhi : A US-based journalist of Indian origin recently wrote in a blog piece on Washington Post that she had been raped by editor-turned-politician MJ Akbar years ago when he was the Editor-in-Chief at Asian Age. Akbar’s lawyer has reportedly dismissed the accusation as ‘false’.

In her opinion piece for the American news outlet, she writes that the recent accusations levelled against Akbar by other women ‘made my head spin.’ She writes that she was 22 when she began working for Asian Age in a newsroom where a majority of the employees were women. “Working in New Delhi under Akbar, we were star-struck. He was famous, an author of two well-regarded political books and a leading editor. Akbar, who was in his 40s, always made sure we were aware of his superior journalistic skills. He marked our copy with his red-ink-filled Mont Blanc pen, crumpled our printouts and often threw them in the garbage bin, as we shuddered. There was never a day when he didn’t shout at one of us at the top of his voice. We rarely measured up to his standards.”

She recounts that at 23, she became the editor of the op-ed page and it was in late spring or summer of 1994 that the first incident of harassment occurred. “I went to show him the op-ed page I had created with what I thought were clever headlines. He applauded my effort and suddenly lunged to kiss me. I reeled. I emerged from the office, red-faced, confused, ashamed, destroyed,” she writes, adding that she recounted the incident to a colleague who was also a close friend. “The second incident was a few months later, when I was summoned to Bombay to help launch a magazine. He called me to his room at the fancy Taj hotel, again to see the layouts. When he again came close to me to kiss me, I fought him and pushed him away. He scratched my face as I ran away, tears streaming down. That evening, I explained the scratches to a friend by telling her I had slipped and fallen at the hotel.”

 

She then states that Akbar had even threatened to sack her if she resisted him again.

The third incident, according to her, is when Akbar raped her. Recounting that she had gone to Jaipur for a news report, she writes she was called to Akbar’s hotel room to discuss work. “In his hotel room, even though I fought him, he was physically more powerful. He ripped off my clothes and raped me. Instead of reporting him to the police, I was filled with shame. I didn’t tell anyone about this then. Would anyone have believed me? I blamed myself. Why did I go to the hotel room?”

The woman remembers that the incidents took a massive toll on her. “I was in shreds — emotionally, physically, mentally,” she writes about a certain incident in London when Akbar had allegedly hit her and hurled office stationaries towards her. It is after this that, she writes, she quit the job and re-started her career in the US.

While she reflects back on the time spent in Asian Age with horror, she writes that she is now a US citizen who has re-discovered her love for journalism.

The woman’s re-telling of what reportedly happened with her is likely to come as yet another blow to Akbar who is already facing allegations of harassment from several women who were his juniors at Asian Age. Akbar – who resigned as minister of state for external affairs – has maintained he is innocent and is confident the truth will come to the fore. According to Washington Post, his lawyer has expressly denied charges made against Akbar by the woman.


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Ayodhya on high alert following intelligence inputs

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Ayodhya: Amid VIP movements, Ayodhya has been put on high alert soon after intelligence inputs indicated a possible terror attack in the city.

“We have put more force into action. The force has been alerted. Also, intelligence officials in the civil dress have come here. They are checking all hotels, restaurants and railway stations. The police force is vigilant and keeping a track of all the movements,” Anil Kumar Sisodia, Superintendent of Police City, told ANI.

This comes ahead of Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s visit to Ayodhya on Sunday along with his party MPs.

 

According to reports, the security has also been heightened keeping in mind the hearing on 2005 Ram Janmabhoomi attack on June 18.

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Seven died while cleaning hotel sewer in Vadodara

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Vadodara: Seven persons, including four sanitation workers, died due to asphyxiation on Saturday while cleaning sewer of a hotel in Gujarat’s Vadodara district, officials said.

The incident happened at a hotel in Fartikui village in Dabhoi tehsil, about 30 km from Vadodara city. Three employees of the hotel were also among those killed.

“When one sanitation worker failed to come out of the manhole, others went inside. All of them died due to asphyxiation,” district collector Kiran Zaveri told PTI.

 
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Manmohan retires from Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi: For the first time in 28 years, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s name ceased to be part of the list of members of the Rajya Sabha on its Web site, and was included in the list of former members of Parliament.

With the Congress lacking the numbers in the Assam legislature to ensure his re-election, 86-year-old Dr Singh retired from the Rajya Sabha.

Dr Singh, then finance minister in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had debuted in the House on October 1, 1991, from Assam and represented the state for five consecutive terms. He was the leader of the House during his 10 years as PM, and leader of the Opposition from 1998 to 2004.The former PM would now need to wait for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, an ally of the Congress, to send him to the Rajya Sabha next month or until the next biennial elections in the Upper House in April 2020 when 54 MPs retire.

 

Five Rajya Sabha members from Tamil Nadu retire in July. The DMK, along with its allies, has the strength in the state legislature to get at least three elected to the Rajya Sabha. It has promised one seat to MDMK chief Vaiko.

However, sources said the DMK and the Congress have not had any discussions on the issue.

The Congress could also hope to send Dr Singh to the Upper House from Gujarat if elections to fill the two vacancies from the state take place together.

The vacancies are on account of two Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha members from Gujarat, Amit Anilchandra Shah and Smriti Zubin Irani, being elected to the Lok Sabha. Shah has debuted in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar while Irani is the Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress’s numbers in the Gujarat assembly would ensure the party wins one of the two seats, the other going to the BJP, if elections to the two seats are held jointly.

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