TN guv apologises to journalist for patting her cheek

TN guv apologises to journalist for patting her cheek

TN governor Banwarilal Purohit is seen patting a woman journalist's cheek during a press conference in Chennai on Tuesday. Pic Courtesy @lakhinathan

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Wednesday apologised to a woman journalist, Lakshmi Subramanian, for patting her cheek when she posed a question to him during a press conference on Tuesday.

With the incident creating an uproar and journalists up in arms against Purohit for his “unprofessional behaviour”, the governor sent a letter to the scribe expressing his regret and apologies. However, Purohit said he patted her cheek considering her to be like his granddaughter.

“It was done with affection and to express my appreciation for your performance as a journalist since I was also a member of that profession for about 40 years. I do understand from your mail that you are feeling hurt about the incident. I wish to express my regret and my apologies to assuage your sentiments that have been hurt. I suppose you will respond through a mail of acknowledgement,” Purohit said.

Lakshmi is working as a special correspondent with The Week magazine and she is based in Chennai.

His statement came as the Network of Women in Media in India (NWMI), a collective of women media professionals across India, and journalists from almost all publications in Tamil Nadu condemned his “patronising behaviour”.

Explaining the sequence of events, Purohit said Lakshmi posed a question to him as he was leaving the Durbar Hall of the Raj Bhawan, the venue of the press conference, and that he considered it was a good question.

“Therefore, as an act of appreciation for the question that you posed, I patted your cheek considering you to be like my granddaughter,” Purohit said in the letter.

His apology came as the DMK and other parties demanded that he be recalled for a variety of reasons, including for Tuesday's incident.

The NWMI said it strongly condemns the unprofessional behaviour of the governor, and demand an unconditional apology from him to Lakshmi, and to women journalists across the country. “Such misconduct from a top government official cannot be excused under any pretext,” the NWMI said in a statement.

Journalists in Tamil Nadu also sent a letter to Purohit demanding an “unconditional apology” from him on the incident.

“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,” the letter said.

Lakshmi had on Tuesday posted a picture of the governor patting her cheek on her Twitter handle and called his behaviour “unprofessional.”

“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. 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,” Lakshmi tweeted.

“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,” she wrote further.

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