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Patted cheek as an act of appreciation, says Tamil Nadu Governor in apology; journalist ‘not convinced’

Tamil Nadu governor incident: "I considered that question to be a good one. Therefore, as an act of appreciation for the question you posed, I gave a pat on your cheek considering you to be like my granddaughter," Governor Banwarilal Purohit said in his apology

Written by Arun Janardhanan | New Delhi |
Updated: April 19, 2018 4:21:05 am
Patted cheek as act of appreciation, says TN Governor in apology; scribe 'not convinced' The journalist on Twitter said, “Unprofessional behaviour – and completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without her consent, especially a woman.” (Source: Twitter)

A day after publicly patting a woman journalist on the cheek after a press conference and drawing sharp criticism, Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit Wednesday apologised for his gesture and said he considered her his granddaughter and was only “appreciating” her work.

Purohit expressed regret hours after over 200 journalists signed and sent him a petition Wednesday seeking an unconditional apology while reminding him that the act amounted to harassment, a non-bailable offence.

In his apology note, Purohit said he was appreciating the good questions she asked. “I gave a pat on your cheek considering you to be my granddaughter,” he said.

In her reply to Purohit’s apology Lakshmi Subramanian, a journalist with The Week magazine said: “Your Excellency, I have with me your letter expressing regret at what happened at the press conference in Chennai the previous day. I accept your apology, even though I am not convinced about your contention that you did it to appreciate a question I asked.”

The Governor had called the press conference after the arrest of a college professor who allegedly asked her students to extend sexual favours for university officials and referred to Purohit in a leaked audio tape. Purohit, however, maintained that the press conference was organised to mark six months of his tenure in the state.

In the leaked tape, the professor Nirmala Devi was heard speaking to her students about her access to the Governor. “He is not a grandfather as you think,” she said in the purported audio tape. Devi was arrested and remanded to judicial custody after police registered a case and the Crime Branch started a probe based on complaints by students.

Purohit on Tuesday had denied charges and said he had never seen Nirmala Devi’s face. When he was asked about the possibility of a CBI probe, Governor Purohit lost his cool and said: “I am your senior, I am 78 years old. I have great grandchildren too. Never say this to me.”
After the press conference, Lakshmi asked Purohit two more questions. Evading her questions, Purohit instead patted her on the cheek. Minutes later, Lakshmi tweeted an image of the gesture and questioned his behaviour.

The tweet, which went viral, had DMK working President M K Stalin, Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi and Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam leader TTV Dhinakaran issuing statements against Purohit. The damage was exacerbated after BJP leader H Raja, defended Purohit and said that the media would never question M Karunanidhi who made his “illegitimate child” a Rajya Sabha MP.

While the DMK and other political parties protested and demanded Purohit go back to New Delhi, Dhinakaran said a commission of inquiry ordered by the governor in a case that involved him created suspicion.

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