Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit sparked a controversy on Tuesday after he patted the cheek of a woman journalist in Chennai, without her consent in an attempt to parry a question. The woman journalist, working for an English magazine, wrote on Twitter, “I asked TN Governor Banwarilal Purohit a question as his press conference was ending. He decided to patronisingly – and without consent – pat me on the cheek as a reply.”
Ironically, the incident happened at a press conferemce organised by the 78-year-old Governor after his name was linked with a Tamil Nadu teacher who was arrested for allegedly asking students to perform sexual favours for a senior university official.
Recounting her ordeal, the journalist said, “Washed my face several times. Still not able to get rid of it. So agitated and angered Mr Governor Banwarilal Purohit. It might be an act of appreciation by you and grandfatherly attitude. But to me you are wrong.” Calling it “unprofessional,” the reporter said it was “completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without her consent, especially a woman.”
Condemning Purohit’s behaviour, the Chennai Press Club in a statement demanded his apology for his “unbecoming conduct” during the press conference. “With your age and political experience, you may very well come up with an explanation that it is just a parental gesture and no overtones involved. But, the journalist who was at the receiving end doesn’t seem to have felt that way.” the statement said.
Adding that other politicians may emulate his actions in future, the statement read, “Though you may claim take shelter that it was an innocuous gesture from an elderly man, the law says otherwise.” Journalists across India have also demanded an apology from the Governor. Nearly 200 journalists have sent a signed letter to Purohit asking him to assure that he would not violate the rights of journalists in future.
DMK Working President MK Stalin on Twitter called out Purohit for his actions. “It is not only unfortunate, but unbecoming of a person holding a constitutional post,” he tweeted. DMK Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi tweeted “even if the intention is above suspicion, a person who holds a public office has to understand that there is a decorum to it and violating a woman journalist’s personal space does not reflect the dignity or the respect which should be shown to any human being.”
தன் கள்ள உறவில் பெற்றெடுத்த கள்ளக் குழந்தையை (illegitimate child) மாநிலங்களவை உறுப்பினராக்கிய தலைவரிடம் ஆளுநரிடம் கேட்டது போல் நிருபர்கள் கேள்வி கேட்பார்களா. மாட்டார்கள். சிதம்பரம் உதயகுமார், அண்ணாநகர் ரமேஷ், பெரம்பலூர் சாதிக் பாட்ஷா நினைவு வந்து பயமுறுத்துமே.
— H Raja (@HRajaBJP) April 18, 2018