#MeToo: Akbar, Alok face more allegations

#MeToo: Akbar, Alok face more allegations
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New Delhi: More women recounted in detail their alleged accounts of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of Union minister M J Akbar and actor Alok Nath as newer names got sucked into the #MeToo vortex on Wednesday.

The Congress, too, stepped into the swirling storm, asking journalist-politician Akbar to either resign as minister of state for external affairs or offer a satisfactory explanation to the allegations by women journalists who had worked with him in the past.

The government maintained silence with Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad refusing to comment when asked to do so in a press conference.

"How can he be in the ministry with serious allegations being levelled against him by responsible journalists who worked with him. Let there be an inquiry into it," Congress spokesperson S Jaipal Reddy said as three more journalists came forward with their allegations against Akbar.

One of them, Ghazala Wahab, detailed the harassment and molestation she faced during her first job in the Asian Age when Akbar was editor.

Describing her trauma in graphic detail, Wahab wrote in The Wire that it took her a while to process the abuse and open up about it.

Singers Kailash Kher, Raghu Dixit, commentator Suhel Seth and woman comic star Aditi Mittal were among the names that surfaced as the movement against the spectrum of sexual misconduct escalated.

#MeToo: Akbar, Alok face more allegations
Sandhya Mridul said despite her resistance, Alok Nath continued to harass her and would drunk call her every night during an outdoor shoot in Kodaikanal. IANS

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said allegations of sexual harassment should be taken seriously as women are often scared to speak out.

"Men who are in positions of power often do this. And it applies to the media as well as to politics or senior personnel in companies," Gandhi told a TV news channel.

Nath, best known as Bollywood's gentle father and grandfather, was slammed with fresh charges by actor Sandhya Mridul, who said she faced repeated harassment when they were shooting for a telefilm in the 1990s.

Mridul said despite her resistance, he continued to harass her and would drunk call her every night during an outdoor shoot in Kodaikanal.

She said Nath, who has been accused of rape by 'Tara' writer-director Vinta Nanda and of harassing Navneet Nishan, sabotaged her career by spreading lies about her being difficult to work with.

Nath released a statement through his lawyer who termed Nanda's allegations "false" and an attempt to 'purposely malign his image.'

As the #MeToo juggernaut - that started last fortnight with Tanushree Dutta alleging that veteran actor Nana Patekar had harassed her - moved on relentlessly, it steamrolled over its first woman.

Comedian Aditi Mittal, a vocal supporter of women who have 'outed' their harassers, was accused by fellow female comedian Kaneez Surka.

Surka said Mittal forcibly kissed her while she was hosting a comedy show two years ago. It happened in the presence of the audience, she alleged.

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