Chennai’s ‘Sex for Degree’ scandal: TN Governor Banwarilal Purohit faces condemnation after he touches female journalist inappropriately

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Journalist bodies and politicians have reacted angrily to Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit touching a female reporter inappropriately after she asked a question regarding ‘sex for degree’ scandal that has rocked the politics in the state.

Banwarilal Purohit
PHOTO- @lakhinathan

The photo of Purohit touching the reporter, working for The Week, inappropriately has now gone viral. This was after the journalist herself took to Twitter and wrote a detailed account of the governor’s objectionable behaviour in a blog.

Journalist Lakshmi Subramanian’s tweet read, “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.”

Her tweet went viral in no time as people began to condemn the controversial governor’s action. DMK Working President MK.Stalin tweeted calling Purohit’s action unfortunate. His tweet said, “Banwarilal’s behaviour is not only unfortunate but also unbecoming of a person holding a constitutional post.”

Lakshmi later wrote a detailed blog expressing her anger over the incident. She wrote, “Governor Banwarilal Purohit, I am angered and agitated. You didn’t answer my questions, but you decided to patronisingly, and without my consent, pat on my cheek as a reply. To you, it might be a mark of appreciation, and a “grandfatherly” gesture, as you replied to several questions during the hour-long press conference on sexual allegations against you. But to me, it was an uninvited gesture as I wanted only answers and not a pat on my cheek.”

Journalists have demanded an apology from Purohit. In an open letter to the TN Governor, journalists in Chennai wrote that his act had violated a woman journalist’s private rights while also crossing  “lines of not just basic courtesy but also those of the law.”

This is what the letter from Chennai journalists said;

“It is with great shock that we write this letter to you. As the Constitutional head of our State of Tamil Nadu, you have crossed lines of not just basic courtesy but also those of the law.

Your action today in touching the cheek of a senior lady reporter who asked you a question at the press meet was patronising at best and a violation of her rights as a woman at worst. She was there since you had called for a press meet and she was simply discharging her duty as a journalist.

We do not wish to question your motives on this gesture, considering that it is appalling that you should choose to do such a thing at a press meet that you addressed on the case of a professor allegedly luring students to sexual encounters with her seniors and who claimed to know you.

It, however, does not behove the Constitutional head of a State to throw basic courtesy and respect to the winds and attempt to touch a lady without her consent, even if the gesture may have been ‘paternal’ in nature.

We would like to draw your attention to Section 2 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1998, which defines ‘harassment’.

“Harassment” means any indecent conduct or act by a man which causes or is likely to cause intimidation, fear, shame or embarrassment, including abusing or causing hurt or nuisance or assault or use of force.

We would also urge you to read this along with Section 4 of the same Act which is reproduced below for your kind perusal.

“Whoever commits or participates or abets harassment of women in or within the precincts of any educational institution, temple or place of worship, bus stop, road, railway station, cinema theatre, park, beach, place of festival, public service vehicle or vessel or any other place shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with a fine, which shall not be less than Rs.10,000.”

The offence is cognisable and non-bailable as your esteemed staff will point out.

Mr Governor, we the journalists of Tamil Nadu demand that you offer an unconditional apology to the journalist in question and also assure all journalists of Tamil Nadu that you will not violate their rights in the future.”

Chennai Press Club too wrote separately condeming Purohit’s act. In a strongly worded letter, Chennai Press Club Joint Secretary Bharathi Tamizhan said, “the action of Governor would amount to an offence under Section 356 of IPC, (outraging the modesty of a woman). The statement further says, “The Governor being the constitutional head of the state is expected to set an example by his words and actions. But, we are sorry to say, your behaviour in yesterday’s press meet was neither exemplary nor condonable”.
Chenna press club calls for immediate public apology from Banwarilal Purohit to avoid further precipitation of the issue.”

This was afgter the CPI-M on Tuesday demanded the removal of Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit after his name featured in a sex audio, which has now gone viral on social media platforms.

Purohit has denied knowing the woman professor, who was arrested on Tuesday for luring her students to have sex in return of money. Nirmala Devi of Devanga Arts College had allegedly promised to reward her students financially and academically if they agreed to extend sexual favours. The 46-year-old professor said that she was doing so on behalf of officials of the Madurai Kamaraj University. She had also claimed to know the governor, who is the chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj University.

The audio of Devi luring her students, while also making references to Purohit, has now gone viral on social media.

 

 

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