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Archives for : Advocacy

A Mother’s Account: They Beat My Son to Death

Father suffers cardiac arrest


 SRINAGAR: The family of a 31-year-old youth, who died under suspect circumstances during an encounter in capital Srinagar earlier this week, has accused the government forces of beating him to death.

Rayees Sofi, who ran a bakery out of the first storey, was killed when forces raided their four-storied house in Fateh Kadal locality of downtown Srinagar on Wednesday. Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants and a policeman were also killed in the encounter.

“At midnight, forces barged into our home and started beating us up without rhyme or reason. Then they went upstairs and started assaulting Rayees, asking him to lead them to militants. I could hear his screams saying that he was innocent but they didn’t let us go up,” Shakeela, mother of Rayees said.

According to family, Rayees was taken away by government forces while his father, Habibullah Sofi suffered a minor cardiac arrest, “His (Rayees’s) brother (Mudasir) rushed him (Habibullah) to a hospital. All this while, I was hoping that Rayees will return home soon,” Shakeela said.

As the encounter ended, a pall of gloom descended on the family when they came to know that Rayees has also been killed. “When they were taking him (Rayees) away, I begged them to let him go. He was innocent. He has a one-year-old child and he worked hard to provide not only for his family but for us also,” Shakeela said.

However, police has said that Rayees refused to come out of the house when the “contact was established with militants,” “The complicity of Rayees Ahmad who was part of the group in providing shelter and logistics to the militants is being investigated,” a J&K Police spokesperson said in a statement.

Two militants, including Mehraj-ud-Din Bangroo, a top Lashkar-e-Toiba strategist from Fateh Kadal who brought the capital Srinagar on the militancy map, were killed in the encounter that sparked massive protests across the city. Bangroo had come to visit his family when forces laid siege of the congested locality.

https://www.thecitizen.in//index.php/en/newsdetail/index/3/15292/a-mothers-account-they-beat-my-son-to-death

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Dussehra turns tragic in Amritsar as 60 crushed under train

TNN | Updated: Oct 19, 2018, 22:20 IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The tragedy took place at the Joda Fatak area where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fireworks
  • As the firecrackers went off, the organisers asked people to move back
  • A large number of people moved towards the railway tracks
  • Cops said that the revelers could not hear the train approaching because of the loud explosions

Dussehra turns tragic in Amritsar as 60 crushed under train

AMRITSAR: Dussehra celebrations turned tragic in Amritsar on Friday evening when a speeding train ran over hundreds of people who were watching Ravana’s effigy going up in flames. At least 60 people were feared dead according to initial estimates with authorities saying that the fatalities could rise.

The tragedy took place at the Joda Fatak area where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fireworks. As the firecrackers went off, the organisers of the Dussehra celebration asked people to move back. A large number of people moved towards the railway tracks.

At the same time, the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU was crossing the spot. Police officials said that the revelers could not hear the train approaching because of the loud explosions from the effigy and were run over by the train. Eyewitnesses said the Amritsar-Howrah train had crossed the spot minutes earlier. Had the two trains crossed at the same time, the casualties would have been much higher.

Amritsar commissioner of police SS Srivastava confirmed the death toll. He said they were trying to clear the bodies from the tracks and take the injured to nearby hospitals.

Amritsar deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said ambulance services had been pressed into service to take the injured to the hospitals. “All hospitals in the city have been alerted about the injured patients and ambulances from the neighbouring districts have also been requisitioned to carry the injured and dead,” he said.

Dussehra was being celebrated in the Amritsar (East) constituency represented by Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu. His wife and former MLA from the area, Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, was at the function and left before the mishap. “I had left the spot only moments earlier after seeing that all arrangements were in place,” she told reporters after the tragedy. “I rushed back as soon as I got a call about the accident.”

Sources said that when the effigy was being burnt, the spectators pushed back around 100 feet on to the railway tracks as they feared that the burning effigy would fall on them.

As news of the tragedy emerged, people gathered in large numbers at the accident spot. Many of them alleged negligence on part of both the organisers of the Dussehra celebrations as well as the state government for not making adequate safety arrangements given that the railway tracks were right next to the celebration site. They blamed the administration and politicians for failing to protect them.

Local MLA and Punjab minister OP Soni visited the spot after the tragedy where he had to face the anger of the people.

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed home secretary NS Kalsi, health secretary Satish Chandra and ADGP (law and order) Hardeep Singh Dhillon to immediately rush to Amritsar. The chief minister would fly to Amritsar on Saturday to assess the situation.

Amarinder tweeted, “Rushing to Amritsar to personally supervise relief & rescue in tragic rail accident on Dussehra in Amritsar. My govt will give Rs 5 lakh to kin of each deceased & free treatment to injured in govt & pvt hospitals. District authorities have been mobilised on war footing.”

Punjab BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Shwait Malik, who is a former mayor of Amritsar, said, “It is a very unfortunate incident. It should not have happened.”

In Video: Amritsar train mishap: Shocking video footage of accident site

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Mumbai-11-year-old on way home after garba raped by tempo driver #WTFnews

Mumbai:

An eleven-yearold Class VII student was raped and sodomized for 30 minutes by a tempo driver inside the vehicle in Sakinaka on Tuesday night. When the 30-year-old accused learned that the police were on his trail, he chopped off his “funky hair” but was caught within 24 hours of the crime from his Sakinaka residence. Police have seized his mobile phone and retrieved the minor’s photos which he had clicked before committing the offence.

The crime took place when the girl and her 11-year-old male friend were returning home around 10pm on Tuesday after playing garba some distance away from their residence.

Alleged rapist had consumed narcotics: Police

The accused, an unemployed man who works part-time as a tempo driver, spotted the two children. “Khan had consumed some narcotic substance that day. He followed the children and when they reached a deserted spot, he attacked the girl’s friend who got frightened and fled. The accused then raped and sodomized the girl and released her around 10.30pm,” said a Sakinaka police official.

The child was since hospitalized. She has been discharged but is in shock.

After the accused released her, she went home and narrated her ordeal to her mother who took her to the police station. In her police statement, the child said she told her mother about the crime when asked to explain the delay in reaching home. “I was terrified but somehow managed to walk through the deserted lane to reach home. The man threatened me and clicked my photos and my friend’s too on his phone. He then slapped my friend and asked him to leave. He threatened me and told me to remain quiet before raping me. The entire stretch was deserted and there was no one around to help me.”

Based on the complaint, DCP Navinchandra Reddy (Zone X) supervised a team of Sakinaka police senior inspector Kishore Sawant, inspector Sunil Mane, assistant inspector Abdul Rauf and the detection staff, and arrested the accused on Wednesday.

“The victim and her friend helped us prepare his sketch that helped us get a lead from informers about his whereabouts. Meanwhile, he tried to change his hairstyle to evade arrest but we managed to nab him. He had deleted the girl’s photo from his phone but we retrieved it with the help of the forensic lab,” said a police official. The accused, who is in police custody, has been booked under Indian Penal Code sections 376 for rape and 377 for unnatural offences, and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act. Police are probing if he had committed similar offences in the past. He is married and has a daughter.

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Singer Shweta Pandit calls Anu Malik a paedophile, says he asked her for a kiss at 15 #MeToo

Singer Shweta Pandit has shared an incident from 17 years ago when composer Anu Malik allegedly asked her for a kiss in exchange for work when she was 15 years old.

t
Hindustan Times

Shweta Pandit,Anu Malik,MeToo
Singer Shweta Pandit has accused music composer Anu Malik of sexual harassment.

Singer Shweta Pandit has joined the long list of women in the Hindi film industry to name and shame their sexual harassers as part of the  #MeToo movement raging across the country. She has shared a detailed account of an incident from 17 years ago when music composer Anu Malik allegedly made sexual advances towards her when she was 15 years old.

Shweta called Anu Malik a paedophile and sexual predator in a long note shared on Twitter on Wednesday. “Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my #MeToo and have to warn young girls about #AnuMalik & let you know your #TimesUp @IndiaMeToo Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this,” she wrote in her tweet.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Shweta Pandit

@ShwetaPandit7

Had to go back to my worst memory as a teenage girl today to write this and speak up – its now or never. This is my and have to warn young girls about & let you know your @IndiaMeToo
Thank you @sonamohapatra for speaking up about him & supporting this

In the note, Shweta details the incident from 2001 when she met Anu for work. Her songs from 2000’s Mohabbatein had become huge hits and she was now looking for more work. She said she was an admirer of the musician and was thrilled when she got a call from Malik’s manager to come to Andheri’s Empire Studio in mid 2001 to meet him.

Malik then asked Pandit to sing a few lines for a voice test and after hearing her, said he’ll give her a song if she ‘gave him a kiss’. Shweta says she was traumatised by the incident. Calling it the “worst experience of my life”, the singer said she was depressed for months after the incident and could not even bring it up with her parents.

Read her full note here:

It has taken a lot in me to open up this wound again and speak up against this pedophile and sexual predator. It was the year 2000 when i was launched as a lead singer with #Mohabbatein (was the youngest singer back then in the Indian music industry) and was trying to get other good songs to follow up with the success of that soundtrack and the outstanding welcome it gave me in the music industry. I got a call from Anu Malik’s then manager (Mustafa) to come to #empirestudio in andheri sometime in mid 2001. I was thrilled like any singer would be. I used to admire his music and practice his songs for hours and look upto him back then! He was recording a group song with Sunidhi and Shaan for the film Awara Pagal Deewana, when my mother and i walked in the monitor room. He told me to wait in the small cabin inside where singers sang at Empire studio. It was just him and me there.

He asked me to sing something without any music as he wanted to hear my voice. I remember i sang the title song of har dil jo pyar karega as a voice test for this man. I sang it well so he said, “ill give you this song with Sunidhi and Shaan but first give me a kiss now” He then smiled, what id recall the most evil grin ive seen. I went numb and pale in the face. I was only 15years old then, still in school. Can anyone even imagine what it felt that moment? It felt like someone had just stabbed me in my stomach. I referred to this man as “Anu uncle”, he knew my entire family for decades and knew us as a respected gharana of musicians for generations who have given our entire lives dedicated to music for 4 generations.

He addressed my father as “Mandheer bhai”. And he does this to his bhai’s daughter? He has 2 young daughters of his own and thats how he treated a 15 year old minor girl. It was the worst experience of my life and i could never speak about it even to my parents. I could never ask any help to heal but was depressed for months. I cried endlessly after this incident and it affected my psyche as a young girl, so much that i could have left the industry but i re-thought and fought with my will-power that why should i leave my greatest passion for a pedophile like him but i still kept struggling for years to bury this inside me. I am sure many singers have been exploited by him as he is a known name for doing this to singers. Id urge those singers/women to share their stories too.

A week ago, singer Sona Mohapatra had also called Malik as a “serial predator”.

In response to Pandit’s allegation, Mohapatra thanked her for speaking up and calling out Malik.

“Sending you love, big healing and strength @ShwetaPandit7. That #AnuMalik did this to you as a child is something #India has to make note of. Thank you so much for being brave and bringing this out in the open. I know how difficult that is and the pressure to let ‘bygones be bygones’.

SONA

@sonamohapatra

Sending you love,big healing & strength @ShwetaPandit7 .That did this to you as a child is something has to make note of.Thank U so much for being brave & bringing this out in the open.I know how difficult that is & the pressure to let ‘bygones be bygones’. (1)

“That so many people trolled me for my #AnuMalik #TimesUp story scoffing because they think calling me ‘Maal’ or calling up at odd hours doesn’t constitute as sexual harassment. Please note, you don’t know Sh*t. Predators do much worse when they get a chance because of people like you,” she wrote on Twitter.

When contacted for a response to Pandit’s allegatins, Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”

Shweta said the incident left her depressed for months. “I could have left the industry but I rethought. Why should I leave my greatest passion for a paedophile like him?” she wrote. Anu Malik told PTI, “No comments. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to talk about it. Today anyone says anything.”

CINTAA meanwhile announced the setting up of a committee to tackle sexual harassment along Vishaka guidelines. Lawyer Vrinda Grover, actors Swara Bhasker, Raveena Tandon and Renuka Shahane, filmmaker Amol Gupte and journalist Bharati Dubey will be part of the committee. Fifty percent will be women.

But CINTAA expressed helplessness at taking up cases that are under legal process, like that of Alok Nath.

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India – 50cr mobiles with #Aadhaar KYC could be disconnected

New Delhi:

There could be a fresh KYC headache for over 50 crore mobile connections, or almost half of India’s phone population. They stare at the prospect of disconnection if SIM cards procured on the basis of Aadhaar verification are not backed up by a fresh identification.

The issue has come to the fore following the Supreme Court’s judgment on Aadhaar, where the court barred private companies from using an individual’s unique ID for authentication purposes.

The matter is now being discussed at the highest levels in the government, considering the large-scale impact it can have on citizens if phones are disconnected in vast numbers. Officials indicated that the government will give adequate time to complete fresh KYC.

On Wednesday, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan met mobile companies on the matter where a way out, and an alternative was discussed. The telecom department is also in discussions with the Unique Identification Authority of India over the issue.

Sundararajan told TOI that the government is mindful of the concerns in this regard and is looking to thrash a way out at the earliest.

Mobile cos await govt directions

She insisted that the government wants to make sure that “customers are not inconvenienced” during the transition. “We want to ensure that it is a smooth transition with little problems for subscribers,” she said.

A large part of the connections procured using Aadhaar would be from the stable of Reliance Jio, the newest entrant in the mobile business that began operations in September 2016 by on-boarding customers only through the biometric route. (Jio announced on Wednesday that the company had a subscriber base of over 25 crore at the end of September this year.) Apart from Jio, there would be similar subscribers (who have been given SIM cards only on the basis of Aadhaar authentication) in the fold of almost all the other phone companies—Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea, and state-owned BSNL and MTNL.

Apart from these, millions of older customers are also left with only the digital Aadhaar identification since their previous pre-Aadhaar KYC paper documents may have been destroyed by telecom companies once their numbers were linked with Aadhaar. The freedom to destroy the older documents was accorded by the government in March last year since the documents were going digital by linkage with Aadhaar.

Mobile companies say they are waiting for a direction from the telecom department on the issue. “We are still not clear on the way forward. We had been asked by UIDAI to submit an ‘exit plan’ by October 15. However, a final direction on this matter will be clear only when we receive instructions from the telecom ministry,” a top official at one of the leading mobile companies said.

On the way forward, sources said that customers may now have to submit a fresh identification document as part of the KYC process. This could be a copy of the passport, driving licence, voter’s card, electricity bill, gas bill or PAN card.

The telecom department is expected to give a fresh order to the companies on the matter very soon, sources said.

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Mumbai- SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

SNDT University’s hostel inmates went on a protest as word of the alleged sexual misconduct got around

HIGHLIGHTS

Over 400 inmates of the hostel sat on a dharna till evening demanding the warden’s immediate dismissal.

The protest was called off only after the university management sent the warden on ‘administrative leave’ for four days.

University authorities said that the student had herself removed her clothes to show her the infection.

The Juhu hostel campus of SNDT University erupted in fury on Sunday after the warden allegedly shamed a student over the length of her skirt and then stripped her in her room.

The alleged sexual misconduct sparked a protest—over 400 inmates of the hostel sat on a dharna till evening demanding the warden’s immediate dismissal—and prompted the police to book the purported harasser for molestation. The protest was called off only after the university management sent the warden on ‘administrative leave’ for four days.

According to one of the hostel inmates, a second-year engineering student was headed out in the afternoon when she was stopped by the warden, Rachana Zaveri, because the hem of her skirt ended above her knees. Although the 19-year-old owed nobody an explanation for her choice of outfit, she still told the warden that because of an allergic reaction on her private parts, she couldn’t wear tightfitting clothes, and that she was on her way to a doctor get the infection looked at.

SNDT hostel warden shames student for outfit, strips her

The warden, however, refused to let her go outside and allegedly dragged her into her room with two of her friends. “The warden then humiliated her and made her strip,” said one of the students who was with the victim.

She’s a habitual abuser, claim students

This allegedly wasn’t first instance of harassment on the part of the warden. Another student claimed that many inmates have been at the receiving end of Zaveri’s abuse.

“The warden has often abused, harassed us and made inappropriate comments at us. We have been complaining about her behaviour for long, but instead of taking action against her, the university would reveal the complainants’ identities to the warden.

After that Zaveri would start targeting the complainants further and threaten them with dire consequences,” alleged another student.

Girls must wear decent clothes: Registrar

University authorities said the warden had contested the student’s claims, saying that the student had herself removed her clothes to show her the infection. “The warden claimed that the student forced her to go into the room and removed her clothes, saying she was not seeing what the problem was. The warden then came out of the room,” said a faculty member.

#MeToo: Last of five-part series on sexual harassment and legal recourse: We need to think beyond deadlines

Following the protest, the university management asked the students to submit their demands in writing. “They have sought the warden’s dismissal. The letter has been forwarded to the vice-chancellor, who is in Nagpur at the moment. She will return to Mumbai on Monday. We assured the students that the situation will be handled [appropriately]. Our hostel committee will investigate the matter and take action,” said the faculty member.

She has often abused, harassed us and made inappropriate comments at us. We have been complaining for long

A hostel inmate

 

The member also said students had complained to her about the warden’s “abusive” behaviour two days ago. “They said she is abusive and that her behaviour is unacceptable. They want the warden to be removed because she is following certain rules and norms in the hostel. The issue was of students taking food from the mess to their room. Sunday’s incident aggravated the situation,” she said.

Meena Kute, registrar (additional charge), told Mirror that she has called students for a meeting on Monday to discuss their grievances. “The rector has apologised and has been sent on a fourday leave. There are boys in the hostel, so we tell women students to wear decent clothes. When girls wear short or transparent clothes, we tell them.” The students, however, have misgivings about the authorities’ assurances. “They are telling us not to escalate the matter. We fear that they would send the warden back to the hostel and harass us further,” said another student.
An officer at Santacruz police station said Zaveri has been booked under Section 354 (molestation) of the IPc. “We haven’t arrested her yet. We will look into it on Monday.”

– With inputs from Rahi Gaikwad

mumbai mirror

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Nandita Das says she will support MeToo movement despite the allegations against her father

Nandita Das has written in a Facebook post that she will keep voicing support towards the #MeToo movement even though her father, Jatin Das, has been accused of sexual harassment.

Nandita Das,MeToo movement,Jatin Das
Nandita Das has written in a Facebook post that she will continue to support the MeToo movement.(Reuters)

Actor-director Nandita Das Tuesday broke her silence over the sexual harassment allegations against her father, noted painter Jatin Das, stating that she will continue to lend support to the  #MeToo movement. A woman, who is the co-founder of a paper-making company, Tuesday came forward to claim that she was sexually harassed 14 years ago by Jatin Das, allegations which the painter dismissed as “vulgar”.

In a Facebook post, Nandita said despite the “disturbing” allegations against her father, she would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the women coming forward with stories of abuse and harassment.

She also warned that women need to be “sure” about their allegations before accusing someone.

“As a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, I want to reiterate that I will continue to add my voice to it, despite the disturbing allegations made against my father, which he has categorically denied,” she wrote on the social networking site.

“I have maintained from the very start that this is the time we all need to listen, so that women (and men) feel safe to speak up. At the same time, it is also important to be sure about allegations so as not to dilute the movement,” the actor said. Nandita said she has received support from “friends and strangers – who are concerned and are trusting my integrity”. “I do believe truth will prevail. And that is all I have to say on this matter,” she asserted. Jatin Das is the latest addition to a growing list of men who have been named as part of the #MeToo campaign that has taken the country by storm.

The woman, Nisha Bora, took to Twitter to level the allegations against the noted painter. Describing the incident, Bora, who was 28-years-old then, said Das during a dinner event asked whether she “had the time and willingness to assist him for a few days to organise his work material”, and after she gave her approval on the second day — at his Khidki village studio — he molested her.

“… He attempted to grab me. I wriggled out of his embrace, flustered. Then he did it again… I pushed him away and moved away from him.

 

“At that moment, he said ‘Come on, it would be nice’. Or something like that. What I recall was his disbelief that I was pushing back. I picked my bag… and ran home. Never to speak about it. Until now,” she said.

The Padma Bhushan awardee, however, has denied the allegations and said these days a “game” was going on to level allegations against people for the “fun” of it.

He labelled the allegations against him as “vulgar”.

“I am shocked. All kinds of things are happening these days… Some people do things and some people make allegations. I don’t know her, I have never met her, and even if I did meet somebody somewhere one doesn’t behave like this… It is vulgar,” Das told PTI.

“There is a game going on, some people are real, have done some things while some people are making allegations for the fun of it,” he added.

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India -Around 80% sexual harassment cases go unreported survey reveals #MeToo

According to the survey, 50 percent respondents said they had faced sexual harassment at workplace during regular office hours

Moneycontrol News@moneycontrolcom

While the ‘#MeToo’ movement against sexual harassment is gaining momentum on social media, a large section of women are yet to report such cases, according to an online survey.

According to a nationwide online survey on sexual harassment at workplace, conducted by LocalCircles, around 80 percent women never report harassment in India. More than 28,000 votes were polled in the survey from over 15,000 unique participants located across India.

Approximately 6,100 or 40 percent of respondents were females. The participants from tier 1 cities were 40 percent, tier 2 cities were 28 percent and tier 3 cities and rural areas were 32 percent.

According to the survey, 32 percent respondents said they, or one of their family members have experienced or observed sexual harassment at workplace.

As many as 50 percent respondents said that they faced sexual harassment at workplace during regular office hours. Around 78 percent respondents said that such cases were not reported to the human resources (HR) department.

The survey also points to another problem that people are not aware of what inappropriate behavior is.

The 2013 Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act stipulates any organisation with more than ten employees should have an independent committee to investigate allegations.

However, many organisations are not adhering to the letter of the law, or only paying lip service to it. The committees required to address these complaints and grievances are either not properly constituted or simply do not exist.

The #MeToo movement which initially started in US has gained significant momentum in India. Many women, primarily from Bollywood and media industry have come forward about sexual harassment that they faced at workplace.

The #MeToo movement took shape in India after actress Tanushree Dutta accused co-star Nana Patekar of inappropriate behaviour while shooting for a film. Since then, many individuals have been called out on social media over alleged sexual harassment.

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India – 20 Women Journalists Support Priya Ramani, To Testify Against MJ Akbar #MeToo

The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

20 Women Journalists Support Priya Ramani, To Testify Against MJ Akbar

19 women journalists will support Priya Ramani, who alleged sexual harassment against MJ Akbar (File)

NEW DELHI: As the #MeToo movement gains ground, 19 women journalists who have worked with ‘The Asian Age’ newspaper, came out in support of their colleague Priya Ramani who has accused union minister MJ Akbar of sexual harassment, a joint statement issued by them said.

The journalists have urged the court to hear their testimonies against MJ Akbar, claiming that some of them suffered sexual harassment by the minister and others have been a witness to it.

“Ramani is not alone in her fight. We would request the honourable court hearing the defamation case to also consider the testimonies of sexual harassment of some of us at the hands of the petitioner, as also of the other signatories who bore witness to this harassment,” the journalists said in the joint statement undersigned by them.

Meenal Baghel who worked for Asian Age (1993 to 1996), Manisha Pande (1993-1998), Tushita Patel (1993-2000), Kanika Gahlaut (1995-1998), Suparna Sharma (1993-1996), Ramola Talwar Badam (1994-1995), Hoihnu Hauzel (1999-2000), Aisha Khan (1995-1998) and Kushalrani Gulab (1993-1997) have signed the statement.

Kaniza Gazari (Asian Age 1995-1997), Malavika Banerjee (1995-1998), AT Jayanthi (1995-1996), Hamida Parkar (1996-1999), Jonali Buragohain, Meenakshi Kumar (1996-2000), Sujata Dutta Sachdeva (1999-2000), Reshmi Chakraborty (1996-98), Kiran Manral (1993-96) and Sanjari Chatterjee are the other journalists to sign the statement.

One journalist from Deccan Chronicle, Christina Francis (2005-2011), also signed the statement.

“What Akbar has demonstrated through his legal actions is his refusal to introspect, acknowledge or atone for his actions that have caused immense pain and indeed harm to many women over the years.

“He himself, in the meanwhile, continues to enjoy enormous power and privilege as minister and Member of Parliament,” the statement said.

“When Ramani spoke out against him in public, she spoke not only about her personal experience, but also lifted the lid on the culture of ‘casual misogyny, entitlement and sexual predation’ that Akbar engendered and presided over at The Asian Age,” it said.

Many journalists from multiple media platforms have come forward with their stories of harassment against the Minister of State for External Affairs under the social media campaign ‘#MeToo’ against sexual misconduct.

MJ Akbar, however, has denied the allegations and on Monday filed a private criminal defamation complaint against Ms Ramani.

Hours after returning from a trip to Africa, the union minister issued a statement trashing the charges against him, saying accusations without evidence has become a “viral fever” among some sections.

Ms Ramani on Monday asserted that she was ready to fight the defamation complaint filed against her, and expressed disappointment over the minister’s statement, saying it paid no heed to the “trauma and fear of the survivors”.

“I am ready to fight the allegations of defamation laid against me as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence,” she had said

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MJ Akbar has 97 lawyers fighting for him against one Priya Ramani #WTFnews #MeToo

Crowdfunding, legal support pours in for survivors

Mumbai: First, the 14 survivors outed MJ Akbar, the junior minister in the external affairs ministry, after years of having struggled with the suffering which they reported they were forced to undergo.  Now, they have to contend with the might of a minister who has come down like a sack of coals on a woman of grit, ironically on the birth anniversary of his namesake and one of India’s greatest emperors, Jalaluddin Mohammed Akbar.

Support is pouring in for the survivors from every quarter, online and in person, as they ready to battle the criminal defamation suit filed by the former editor. The Network of Women in Media, India, the Foundation for Media Professionals and the Brihanmumbai Union of Journalists have sent a letter of protest in solidarity with the 14 survivors to the President and Prime Minister.

But first the shocker — 97 lawyers whom Akbar has named on the ‘vakalatnama’ are the same who had fought for Tarun Tejpal, founder of Tehelka. Journalist Vinod K Jose tweeted, “How do serial sexual offenders all have the same legal defence? Tejpal had a partner of Karanjawala and Co (Sandeep Kapoor) defending him. MJ Akbar has gone to Karanjawala himself. K’wala is a friend of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Political might comes to destroy,” said Jose.

However, just as goddess Durga emerged from the pooling of energies of all the gods, women from all quarters have pooled in their energies and resources. The minute the petition was put out, Nidhi Razdan of NDTV expressed shock. “Just read the entire criminal defamation suit filed by MJ Akbar. He has NINETY SEVEN lawyers fighting for him! 97! Against one Priya Ramani, Well, well,” said Razdan. Senior counsel, Indira Jaising responded, saying this was just the beginning, the legal teams only get larger. “Wife and daughters and two senior women partners, included, but you have not seen it all yet, in court it will be senior lawyers, so add to the numbers,” tweeted Jaising.

The court case will surely mean huge expenses for the survivors, and an additional burden. The co-founder of the Money Life Foundation, Sucheta Dalal, suggested crowdfunding. “Hey, Priya Ramani and all the 14 who spoke up. Let’s crowd fund your defence. I am sure many top lawyers will help you fight pro bono, but we at Money Life India know there are lots of expenses involved! So think about it! Happy to support, I am sure thousands of others will too!” said Dalal.

Yet another woman was ready to donate an amount equivalent to her monthly beauty parlour expenditure to the cause of the survivors. Or, “if there is a ‘go-fund-me’ link to pay for Priya Ramani’s legal defence, hook me up. I am ready to pay the entirety of my parlour expenses for the month for her. My message to MJ Akbar, we make money and we are coming for you,” said Aishwarya. Some noted the stoic silence of the government on allowing Akbar to continue in office, and believe this is blatant politicisation of the #MeToo movement. “Not surprised by Akbar/BJP brazening it out. The most consistent thing about Modi-Shah politics is, nobody is made to go under any allegations whatsoever. Those who jumped to announce Akbar resignation should’ve googled Kuldip Singh Sengar, BJP MLA in custody for rape and murder,” said Shekhar Gupta

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