By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | October 18, 2018
It took M J Akbar 97 lawyers to sign his defamation suit against Priya Ramani. It gave the man strength! The move obviously was to cow her down in the hope to get his other #MeToo moments (women journalists who were victimized) to back off. The strategy was plain and simple: attack a target powerfully, to nullify the others.
What Akbar and his advisors did not see coming was the “underwear’ episode and the backlash that would follow. Kudos to Tushita Patel, another ex-Asian Age Employee who seethed with rage as Priya Ramani was dealt a defamation suit. Patel was surprised at his “complete lack of contrition and attempt to victim shame.”
“MJ Akbar, stop with the lying. You sexually harassed me too. Your threats will not silence us,” she said in her interview with scroll.in
Meenal Baghel, also an ex-employee of Asian Age and now editor of Mumbai Mirror, rallied with journalists who were traumatized by Akbar and they all stood in solidarity with Priya Ramani. Her husband, Samar Halarnkar, came in support of his wife: “My wife faces a union minister, his 97 lawyers. It takes special courage to do that.”
How cool is that!
Anyone who has been standing up fighting for justice with only the truth as a weapon will understand how difficult it is; it is also comforting because the Truth is by your side. Nevertheless, as the battle rages, it takes special courage to stand tall despite the odds, facing venomous men and women, who side with the lies. The only solace for people like these is that in the end, the Truth always prevails, because Truth is God.
The irony is that 97 lawyers did not see any lie in Ramani’s article in Vogue (where she had not named him, but subsequently named him in her tweets following Tanushree Dutta’s bold move). They only saw the TRUTH. And the Truth is what has baffled them…
“He didn’t do anything.”
What they are trying and thinking and assuming and hoping against hope is whether they will be able to push the other truth under the carpet: That of him calling Priya in his hotel room for a job interview, sipping alcohol and also offering her a drink… and singing old Hindi songs…
“Is this how an interview is conducted to recruit women journalists? I’m sure Priya was not auditioning as a playback singer!
Priya spoke the TRUTH: “He did not do anything.”
But dear 97 lawyers, “Did he really not do anything by conducting an interview in a hotel room having a drink and offering a drink to a woman? Does a woman come for a job interview to drink in a hotel room?”
It takes courage to stand up and speak out. It takes courage to be consistent in your speaking the truth. Priya Ramani, Tushita Patel, Ghazala Wahab… you have shown immense courage.
But first, let us raise a toast to Tanushree Dutta who took a stance to stand up to Nana Patekar. With her bold conviction and her fearlessness, Tanushree has empowered other women to find their voice, to find hope in their buried despair, to see a light at the end of a tunnel.
Kudos to all the women who have spoken out and for the women and men who have come out in support.
Ultimately, the Truth will set you free!