Retired bureaucrat to probe college officials

Retired IAS officer R. Santhanam, who has been appointed by Governor Banwarilal Purohit to probe the Aruppukottai sex scandal, arrives in Madurai on Thursday to commence his investigation. PTI

Retired bureaucrat R Santhanam will on Friday hold inquiries with the top brass of the Devanga Arts College in Arupukkottai regarding complaints that a woman professor lured four girl students to give "sexual favours" to a "top official".

The former IAS officer, who has been entrusted with the task of conducting an inquiry into the shocking incident, has also co-opted two women professors to talk to the girl students who were lured by Nirmala Devi, the associate professor who was arrested, to get their side of the story.

Santhanam began his inquiry on Thursday by holding discussions with Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) vice-chancellor P P Chellathurai and other senior professors on the issue. Devanga Arts College is an autonomous institution affiliated to the MKU.

"I will be in the college for the whole of Friday and I intend to question a few people that would include the principal, secretary and professors. I would also be happy to receive any kind of representation related to the incident from the public or any college student," Santhanam told DH.

He said he will take the help of Professor Kamali from Mother Teresa College in Kodaikanal and Thyageswari of the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University in talking to the affected girl students.

"While I will question the people in charge of administering the college and professors, the women teachers will get the girls' side of the story," he said.

Santhanam also said he would also seek the permission of the court to inquire with the professor in question on Saturday.

He will also receive petitions or representations from the public on April 21, April 24 and 25 in Arupukkottai, government officials said.

His comments came as Crime Branch-Crime Investigation Department (CB-CID) investigators caught hold of the WhatsApp chats between the professor and one of the students, who "outright" rejected her "offer". 

In the chats, according to the police, the professor continues to "woo" the students asking them to "grab the opportunity that has knocked on your doors".

In a related development, DMK and PMK denounced the transfer of K Jayanth Murali, ADGP of the CB-CID, in a "hurry", after the professor's case was transferred to the department.

The parties said the transfer of the "upright" officer has given room to doubts whether there was a plan to "prevent the truth from coming out" in this case.

The CB-CID also began its investigations by investigating about the college principal and secretary on Thursday. It will move an application before a local court on Friday seeking police custody of Nirmala for investigating her.

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