Mumbai: Indian minister M.J. Akbar called the multiple allegations of physical assault against him "wild and baseless" on Sunday, and said he plans to take legal action against the women who have made the accusations.
At least 10 women have gone public in the past week with accounts of having faced inappropriate behaviour and harassment from Akbar, a former journalist who is now minister of state for external affairs in the Indian government.
Akbar, a veteran editor who founded several newspapers and magazines, is accused of a range of inappropriate behaviour by female journalists who previously worked as his subordinates. "The allegations of misconduct made against me are false and fabricated, spiced up by innuendo and malice," said Akbar in a one-page statement given to Reuters partner ANI in India.
The #MeToo movement that began in the United States in response to accusations of physical harassment and abuse by powerful men in media and entertainment, has spread to India in the last few weeks after a Bollywood actress accused a colleague of inappropriate behaviour on the sets of a film they were shooting in 2008.
Since then, over a dozen men in the worlds of media, entertainment and the arts have been accused of offences ranging fromharassment to rape. Akbar has faced calls for his resignation on social media networks, but the government has remained silent on the issue, while Akbar was attending a conference in Nigeria.
Akbar in his statement said he plans to fight the allegations and questioned whether the allegations were politically motivated. "Why has this storm risen a few months before a general election? Is there an agenda? You be the judge," he said.