Indian minister in #MeToo storm announces resignation

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But later, the #MeToo movement gained ground and 19 women journalists colleagues of her, came out in support of Priya Ramani and they issued a joint statement.

The development is proof that women's voices in India are beginning to count.

The Congress Party said Mr Akbar's "belated resignation is a result of the persistent pressure put by women who have shared their horrific and uncomfortable stories". A number of instances of such harassment by men in positions of power and authority in the fields of journalism, advertising and films have come to light since the first week of October 2018 through social, print and electronic media.

India's junior foreign minister has announced his resignation following allegations of sexual harassment by a string of women, as the country's fledgling #MeToo movement gathers pace. He joined the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2016.

In her statement, Ramani said that she is ready to fight the allegations Akbar levelled against her.

Mr Modi's Hindu nationalist government has said very little about the accusations against one of its members or about the upsurge in #MeToo allegations.

Advocate Geeta Luthra, representing Akbar, told the court that Priya Raman's tweets had been widely circulated among the public and media persons and were "clearly defamatory".

The court later fixed October 31 as the date for recording of pre summoning evidence of Mr. Akbar and his other witnesses in the case.

While Ramani feels vindicated, Suparna Sharma, who had accused Akbar of having plucked her bra strap, said, "We don't know who is backing and supporting him, but I am happy and glad that he has stepped down".

"You are facing an election in several states and this could have been highly embarrassing for the government".

Ramani's husband, journalist Samar Halarnkar, wrote a column on Tuesday saying the lawsuit was being used to "intimidate her, and through her to intimidate the others who have spoken up and silence others who have not".

It had claimed that the woman journalist, while putting forward the allegations relating to incidents which allegedly occurred 20 years ago, "intentionally put forward malicious, fabricated, and salacious imputations to harm the reputation of the complainant".

He has denied the accusations and filed a criminal lawsuit against one of the women for defaming him.

The rush of accusations has prompted Indian unions and employer groups to seek guidance on how to manage sexual harassment in the workplace, according to industry sources.

"The allegations against him should be properly investigated", Athawale said.

A BJP spokesman, Sambit Patra, did not respond to requests for comment.

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