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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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National

NIA raids locations in western UP, Punjab over ISIS-inspired module probe

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New Delhi:The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday morning conducted raids at several places in western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in connection with the investigation into a suspected ISIS-inspired module. A case was recently registered against the suspected module.

Sources said that the police officials detained two persons for questioning from Athsaini village in Garhmukteshwar tehsil. They were being interrogated by the police till last report came in.

The agency rounded up a 50-year-old resident of Bulandshahr, who runs a general store and has spent over 25 years in Saudi Arabia.

 

Notably, this is the third time that raids have been conducted by the NIA in Hapur area of Uttar Pradesh while the searches in Amroha have been carried out for the second time.

Several teams of the counter-terror probe agency launched the searches simultaneously in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha and Bulandshahr besides Punjab’s Ludhiana, and several places early in the day, a senior NIA official said.

The raids that were still underway, kicked off after the NIA got leads from those arrested during their interrogation. The agency is looking into the role of a foreign mastermind behind the new module.

The action comes in the wake of a case it registered on December 20 under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

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Armed robbers loot passengers onboard Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express

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New Delhi: Unidentified assailants, carrying guns and sharp-edged weapons, barged inside two coaches of Jammu-Delhi Duronto Express and looted the passengers on Thursday morning.

A group of about seven to ten armed assailants robbed passengers onboard B3 and B7 coaches. The incident took place in the early morning hours in Badli station, on the outskirts of Delhi.

The incident came to light after a passenger filed a complaint through the railways’ complaints portal. Passenger Ashwani Kumar, in his complaint, claimed that passengers of B3 and B7 coaches of the train were targeted by the armed men as it neared the Delhi Sarai Rohilla station.

 

“As train number 12266, which stops only at its source and destination stations, was approaching the Delhi station, stopped at around 3:30 am awaiting signal, seven to 10 miscreants entered coaches B3 and B7 of the train,” Kumar said.

The miscreants snatched mobiles, gold jewellery, cash and other valuable items from multiple passengers. The entire robbery took place within 10 to 15 minutes.
A case has been filed.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the case and action will be taken against culprits, said the Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO) Northern Railways.

“The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has initial leads in the matter. The culprits will be nabbed soon and stern action will be taken against them,” a Northern Railway spokesperson said.

Kumar later added that the passengers tried to reach the train attendant and TT after the incident and found them after 20 minutes. “The irony is that neither staff nor security personnel were available there at the time of the mishap,” the passenger claimed.

The complainant claimed that when he could not find the TT or the attendant, he contacted the Delhi Police after which an FIR was registered at the destination station.

“… The attendant told us that there was no security personnel available in the train. We are not safe even in AC coaches and imagine the security in sleeper class and general coaches where passengers enter the train even without tickets… ,” Kumar wrote in his complaint.

Several persons took to social media questioning rail security and safety of passengers again with this incident.

The Jammu Tawi-Delhi Sarai Rohilla Express (Train no 12266) has a travel time of 9 hours with one halt at Ludhiana.

The Duronto Expresses are one of the fastest trains in India. It has only AC coaches.

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SC partially strikes down stringent rules on Maharashtra dance bars

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside certain provisions of a law imposing restrictions on the licensing and functioning of dance bars in Maharashtra.

A bench headed by Justice A K Sikri quashed certain provisions of the Maharashtra Prohibition of Obscene Dance in Hotels, Restaurants and Bar Rooms and Protection of Dignity of Women (Working therein) Act, 2016.

The top court allowed orchestra and added that tips can be given but showering of cash and coins is not allowed inside bars.

 

SC upheld the condition of fixed timings of dance bars in Maharashtra from 6 pm to 11.30 pm.

Supreme Court said, “There cannot be a total prohibition on dance bars. No licence has been granted by Maharashtra since 2005. There may be regulations but that should not amount to a total prohibition.”

The court quashed conditions of Maharashtra government of putting CCTV cameras in dance bars of Mumbai, giving licence to people of good character as ‘vague’.
It also repealed a rule that segregated dancing stage from the bar area where drinks are served.

The Court has also struck down a condition by which dance bars should be 1 km away from educational and religious places.

The top court has upheld a rule of Maharashtra government by which working women should have a contract so they can’t be exploited, however, quashed a rule of monthly salary for bar dancers.

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