MeToo sees mischief in Shah’s comments

Crushing the #MeToo movement with this kind of language won't work, says Priya Ramani

By Our Special Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 14.10.18, 3:00 AM
  • Updated 15.10.18, 4:58 PM
  • a min read
  •  
Amit Shah. File picture

BJP president Amit Shah has drawn flak for suggesting that the veracity of not only the allegations against Union minister M.J. Akbar but also those who posted the accounts of alleged sexual harassment should be checked.

In an audio clip aired by Aaj Tak TV channel, a voice similar to that of Shah is heard saying: “Because something has come on a website, it is very difficult to comment on it. If anyone posts anything about an individual’s character on a website, it has to be seen where it is true or false, whether such an incident happened or not. (Whether) the person whose name is there made the post or not. You too can post something in my name. All these things will have to be seen….”

Some people, including journalist Priya Ramani who was the first to name Akbar on Monday, saw this as an attempt to intimidate the women who had spoken out. Others saw it as an indication that Shah was in no hurry to take action against the junior foreign minister who is scheduled to return from abroad on Sunday.

“Is Amit Shah trying to intimidate us?’’ Ramani tweeted. “Crushing the #MeToo movement with this kind of language won’t work, sorry. Try again, sir,” she added.

Author and journalist Salil Tripathi tweeted: “So I take it Mr Shah will now be getting investigators to investigate the women who made allegations against Mr Akbar.”

A BJP leader who did not want to be named said Shah’s statement was being misinterpreted. The leader did not offer an alternative interpretation.

Akbar, who has been in Central Africa all week through the steady stream of accusations by women journalists who have worked with him, is slated to return from Malabo in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

What has irked those at the forefront of the #MeToo movement is that while journalists and a section of the film industry, accused of harassing their women colleagues, have had to face the music, the minister has gone about his official work representing India overseas despite the growing pile of accusations against him.

The News Minute portal reported on Saturday that K.R. Srinivas, the resident editor of The Times of India newspaper in Hyderabad, has resigned.