Millennium Post

Was consensual: MJ Akbar rejects rape charge, wife comes out in his support

New Delhi: Former Union minister M J Akbar on Friday denied accusations of rape by US-based journalist Pallavi Gogoi, claiming he had a consensual relationship spanning several months with her, but it ended "perhaps not on the best note".

In a separate statement, his wife Mallika Akbar also dismissed Gogoi's accusations, made in a Washington Post article Friday, as a "lie".

"Somewhere around 1994, Ms Pallavi Gogoi and I entered into a consensual relationship that spanned several months," Akbar, who recently resigned as junior foreign minister following a spate of #MeToo allegations, said in a statement.

"This relationship (with Gogoi) gave rise to talk and would later cause significant strife in my home life as well. This consensual relationship ended, perhaps not on the best note," he said.

In her statement, Mallika admitted she knew about the relationship between Akbar and Pallavi and the relationship caused unhappiness and discord in her family.

"More than twenty years ago, Pallavi Gogoi caused unhappiness and discord in our home. I learned of her and my husband's involvement through her late night phone calls and her public display of affection in my presence. In her flaunting the relationship, she caused anguish and hurt to my entire family," she said.

She said she remained "silent" even though the MeToo campaign was "unleashed" against Akbar. But the article by Gogoi alleging that she was raped by him "forced" her "to step in" with what she knew to be true, she said.

"I don't know Pallavi's reasons for telling this lie but a lie it is," Mallika added.

In her article in Washington Post, US-based Gogoi, currently working as an editor at the National Public Radio (NPR), recounted the "most painful memories" of her life and said she was in "shreds -emotionally, physically, mentally".

She accused Akbar of raping her, saying the "brilliant journalist" used his position as editor-in-chief of the Asian Age to prey on her.

Referring to a party at their residence, Mallika said, "I have watched with mortification and pain as they danced close. I had confronted my husband at the time, and he decided to prioritise his family."

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