Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah said that the sexual harassment charges against MJ Akbar, the minister of state for external affairs, would be looked into, The Times of India reported.
At least eight women journalists have accused Akbar, the founding editor of publications including The Telegraph and The Asian Age, of sexual harassment and predatory behaviour.
On Friday, INB India reported a fresh allegation against the minister by a US-based journalist, who said Akbar “kissed me on my mouth and forced his tongue into my mouth” in 2007. She was just 18 years old at the time, an intern at The Asian Age, where 56-year-old Akbar was the editor.
INB India also corroborated the woman’s account through interviews with three other people and by reviewing emails between her father and Akbar.
Akbar said in the email, “These are issues which are so prone to misunderstanding, that there is no point debating them. My profoundest apologies if there was anything inappropriate.”
The Times of India quoted Shah as saying, “Dekhna padega yeh sach hai ya galat… Is par zaroor sochenge (We have to see whether the allegations are true or false… We will definitely look into this).”
While TOI did not specify when and where Shah said this, India Today reported that he was speaking to a local channel.
Many news reports have said that Akbar will be asked to step down once he returns from Africa on Sunday.
While the government has not officially responded to the demands for Akbar to resign, ministers including Smriti Irani and Maneka Gandhi have spoken about it to the media. Gandhi, the Union minister for women and child development, has also called for a probe against Akbar.