2 more wit­nesses record state­ments back­ing MJ Ak­bar in defama­tion case

Hindustan Times (Ranchi) - - Nation - Press Trust of In­dia let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Fri­day recorded the state­ments of two wit­nesses in sup­port of defama­tion case filed by jour­nal­ist and politi­cian MJ Ak­bar against his for­mer woman col­league Priya Ra­mani who had lev­elled al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct against him.

Ak­bar’s two ex-col­leagues — Su­nil Gu­jral and Veenu San­dal who de­posed as wit­nesses be­fore ad­di­tional chief metropoli­tan mag­is­trate Sa­mar Vishal — said the al­le­ga­tions came as a shock to them and ir­repara­ble dam­age was caused to his rep­u­ta­tion.

Gu­jral, a busi­ness­man and printer, pub­lisher of the Sun­day Guardian, who ap­peared as a com­plainant wit­ness to sup­port defama­tion case filed by Ak­bar, tes­ti­fied that as a col­league and a friend, he never heard any whis­per re­gard­ing mis­con­duct or mis­be­haviour of any kind.

Re­gard­ing the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled by scribe Ra­mani against Ak­bar, he said this came as a “shock” to him and he was “very dis­turbed”.

“I spoke to Ak­bar there­after as I felt em­bar­rassed and let down. Be­sides this, my em­bar­rass­ment was com­pounded as friends and ac­quain­tances who knew of all my old as­so­ci­a­tion with Ak­bar of al­most 40 years started ask­ing em­bar­rass­ing ques­tions, which made me feel very bad since I felt that ir­repara­ble dam­age has been done to Ak­bar’s rep­u­ta­tion in my es­ti­ma­tion as well as in es­ti­ma­tion of my friend cir­cle and ac­quain­tances,” said Gu­jral.

San­dal said she heard in the news about Ra­mani’s tweets on Oc­to­ber 8 and it was a “huge jolt” that she had called Ak­bar a “preda­tor” and other rev­e­la­tions about him. “It was very shock­ing and painful to think that some­one you had placed on a pedestal could al­legedly fall so low,” she de­posed.

There was a lot of talk about this at that time and dur­ing dis­cus­sions with friends and at other pub­lic places, it was em­barass­ing to be asked ques­tions about Ak­bar as peo­ple knew of her as­so­ci­a­tion with him, she added.

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