Akbar has denied all allegations and filed a criminal defamation case specifically against senior journalist Priya Ramani.
New Delhi: A senior woman journalist alleged in a Delhi court on Tuesday that former Union minister M.J. Akbar sexually harassed her in 1997 while she was working in a newspaper being edited by him. Taking the stand as a defence witness for Priya Ramani in the court of additional chief magistrate Vishal Pahuja, Ms Wahab gave a detailed account of the sexual and mental harassment that she was subjected to as a young journalist by Mr Akbar at The Asian Age.
Mr Akbar has denied all allegations and filed a criminal defamation case specifically against senior journalist Priya Ramani. He has alleged that her tweet alleging sexual harassment by him tarnished his reputation. He has also submitted that Ms Ramani’s tweet led to several women coming forward with their accounts of sexual harassment by him.
In her deposition, Ms Wahab told the court that she had tweeted about Mr Akbar in the context of sexual harassment and MeToo before Ms Ramani’s tweet.
Recounting incidents of 1997, when she had joined The Asian Age, Ms Wahab said, "My desk was right outside Akbar's office in a manner that if his door was slightly open he could watch me. Many a times I saw him watching me. If there was a visitor the door was closed and when he was alone the door would be open. Later he started sending me private messages on the Asian Age’s internal messaging service about my clothes and appearances".
Ms Wahab further told the court, "Sometime in August 1997, in the afternoon, Akbar called me to his room. As I went in, he asked me to shut the door. Then he asked me to look up a word in the dictionary which was placed on a low three-legged stool across his desk. It was placed so low that one had to bend down. When I bent down, he came from behind and grabbed my waist. He ran his hands from my breasts to my hips. I tried to push his hands away but they were firmly planted on my waist. He then pushed his thumb on my breast. Not only was the door shut, even his back was towards the door".