New Delhi: MJ Akbar and his wife have refuted allegations of rape levelled against the former Union minister by journalist Pallavi Gogoi with the former minister adding that he was in a ‘consensual’ relationship with the journalist.
Currently the chief business editor of US-based National Public Radio (NPR), Pallavi Gogoi has accused Akbar of raping her when she was working with The Asian Age as a 23-year-old.
In her account in The Washington Post, Gogoi details her ordeal. The newspaper got in touch with Akbar’s lawyer Sandeep Kapur. The report said, “We reached out to Sandeep Kapur, MJ Akbar’s lawyer, for comment on the accounts laid out in this piece. The response: “My client states that these [incidents and allegations] are false and expressly denied.”
Her story starts in the same vein as most other women journalists like Ghazala Wahab and Priya Ramani who spoke up about their ordeals of sexual harassment from Akbar; Gogoi describes how the majorly female staff at The Asian Age at the time was in awe of Akbar.
MJ Akbar’s statement
On 29th October, the Washington Post forwarded to my lawyers a series of cryptic and non-specific questions, regarding incidents alleged to have taken place approximately 23 years ago. These allegations were false and were consequently denied. On the morning of 2nd November 2018, the Washington Post ran a piece written by Ms Pallavi Gogoi, detailing false allegations of rape and violence against me. I have had occasion to read this article and it has become necessary, at this point in time, to bring certain facts to light.
Somewhere around 1994, Ms Pallavi Gogoi and I entered into a consensual relationship that spanned several months. This relationship gave rise to talk and would later cause significant strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on the best note. Several people who worked with me and knew both of us have come forward to indicate that they would be happy to bear testimony to what is stated above and, at no stage, did the behavior of Ms. Pallavi Gogoi, give any one of them the impression that she was working under, or in any way, under duress. In the past few weeks, I have been subjected to a barrage of false and fabricated accusations, which I am now addressing. For the moment, this is all I wish to say.
Statement of Mrs Mallika Akbar, Wife of MJ Akbar
I have been silent all this while as a ‘me too’ campaign has been unleashed against my husband, MJ Akbar. However, the Washington Post article by Pallavi Gogoi alleging that she was raped by him forces me to step in with what I know to be true. More than twenty years ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in our home. I learned of her and my husband’s involvement through her late night phone calls and her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish and hurt to my entire family. At an Asian Age party at our home, crowded with young journalists, I have watched with mortification and pain as they danced close. I had confronted my husband at the time and he decided to prioritize his family. Tushita Patel and Pallavi Gogoi were often at our home, happily drinking and dining with us. Neither carried the haunted look of victims of sexual assault. I don’t know Pallavi’s reasons for telling this lie but a lie it is.