(Image source from: Siasat)
India's junior external affairs minister filed a criminal lawsuit for defamation in court on Monday against a woman who has accused him of sexual harassment, his attorney said.
Minister M.J. Akbar filed a lawsuit against journalist Priya Ramani, the first of more than a dozen women to allege harassment in recent weeks from his days as a newspaper editor, Akbar's attorney Sandeep Kapur told The Associated Press.
The decision came as dozens of members of the opposition India National Congress party's youth wing clashed with police outside Akbar's New Delhi home, demanding his resignation.
On Sunday, Akbar denied the allegations as "false, baseless and wild."
The string of allegations began with a tweet from Ramani on October 8 in which she identified Akbar as the man who had harassed her as mentioned in an article for Vogue India a year ago.
Since then, more than a dozen other women, mostly journalists who worked with Akbar or interviewed with him for jobs when he was an editor in Kolkata and New Delhi, have accused him of sexual assault in the #MeToo campaign sweeping India.
In a statement on Sunday, Akbar said that Ramani and another of his accusers had continued working with him after the alleged harassment, which, he said, "clearly establishes that they had no apprehension and discomfort."
Several Indian writers and actresses have taken to social media with sexual harassment and assault allegations by their colleagues and superiors, chiefly at work.
Advocates say the digital outpouring reflects frustration with an anti-harassment law that has been lauded internationally but has done little to change the status quo for Indian women.
On Saturday, journalists demonstrated in New Delhi demanding Akbar's stepping down.
By Sowmya Sangam