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TamilNadu Governor pats woman journalist on cheek without consent, sparks uproar

Calling it unprofessional behavior, journalist said it was completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without consent.

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit held a press conference on Tuesday evening to clear his name from a controversy surrounding a professor arrested in the ‘sex for degrees’ case. However, the Governor walked into another row when he patted the cheek of a woman journalist, without her consent, seemingly to dodge her question.

The incident took place when the 78-year-old Governor was about to leave the venue of the crowded press conference on the Professor Nirmala Devi issue at the Raj Bhavan.

The woman journalist, who works with TheWeek, recalled the encounter 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.”

Calling it unprofessional behavior, the journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, said it was completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without consent.

“This, moments after he dismissed a barrage of questions about allegations of sexual misconduct against himself. Unprofessional behaviour – and completely uncalled for to touch a stranger without her consent, especially a woman,” she tweeted.

The reporter claimed she had washed her face several times. While saying she was “still not able to get rid of it,” she went on to comment — “It might be an act of appreciation by you and grandfatherly attitude. But to me you are wrong.”

The journalist’s post picked up pace on Tuesday evening with opinion swinging both ways. Critics of her post also got trolled on social media.

Tamil Nadu’s opposition party, the DMK, said the incident was “unbecoming” of a person holding a Constitutional post.

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.”

“It is not only unfortunate, but unbecoming of a person holding a constitutional post,” DMK Working President MK Stalin said on Twitter.

The Governor’s gesture became dramatic at a time when women’s issue has become contentious with the assistant professor Nirmala Devi affair becoming a hot political topic as the name of the head of state got dragged into it.

Nirmala Devi, professor at Devanga Arts College accused of making tacit requests for sexual favours to her students on behalf of officials of the Madurai Kamaraj University, had claimed she knows the Governor, who is the chancellor of the university.

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