TN guv says he never met professor who lured girls

Banwarilal Purohit

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Tuesday dismissed as "nonsense and baseless" allegations that he knew the woman professor who was arrested for reportedly luring four girl students to offer "sexual favours" for a top official.

In an unprecedented move, Purohit held a press conference at the Raj Bhawan here to clear the air over the issue after the professor was heard in an audio clip dropping the name of the governor more than once and even mentioning that she was seeking the favour for a "governor-level" official.

Nirmala Devi, an assistant professor of Devanga Arts College in Arupukkottai affiliated to Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU), was arrested on Monday and was sent to 12 days judicial custody by a local court in Virudhunagar on Tuesday.

"I have not seen her (Nirmala Devi's) face until today. Nobody on this earth can level such allegations against me. I am 78 years old and I am blessed to have great-grandchildren. It is nonsense, baseless and needless. Please remember, the governor is above politics," Purohit said, answering a barrage of questions on whether he knew the professor and why she was dragging his name into the conversation.

"Don't utter such words. I don't expect a journalist to use such words…it is absolutely nonsense and baseless," the governor said when a journalist stated that the issue was serious since the conversation of the professor with girl students point towards a sex scandal.

He also dismissed as "nonsense" reports that he was being probed by a Central agency for his involvement in a sex scandal.

"My life is transparent and I am a very experienced politician who has worked for the people. I don't even recognise such allegations and I rubbish all allegations," he said.

More than once, the governor reiterated that he had never seen the professor and that a one-man commission headed by retired bureaucrat R Santhanam will go in detail into the incident.

To a question, Purohit said he welcomed the decision of the Tamil Nadu government to transfer the case to CB-CID from Virudhunagar district police.

"Have some respect for the Governor," Purohit said in an angry note as journalists questioned him on how the probe can be "impartial" if the report would be submitted to him despite his name figuring in the audio.

He also rejected suggestions that he should keep away till the time Santhanam submits his report and dismissed demands for his resignation.

"The officer is a very seasoned bureaucrat and his sincerity and honesty are well-known. Nobody can question him. If he needs the help of women (in talking to the girl students), he is free to avail their help," Purohit said, responding to questions on why there was no woman member in the commission though it involves a woman professor and four girl students.

He also rejected suggestions to re-look into the composition of the committee, which, he said, will submit its report by the end of the month.

Purohit also defended his decision to constitute a committee to go into the issue without consulting the Tamil Nadu Cabinet, saying the Constitution has empowered him in his capacity as chancellor to interfere in the affairs of universities.

"Governor is the Executive Head of the state. And only the Chancellor is empowered to constitute the committee," he said and found fault with the college for not informing the MKU about the audio clip and its action of suspending the professor from service.

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